Infertility Linked to Early Death in Men

Men with semen abnormalities may have a higher risk of death

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Infertility problems in men may be a sign of more serious underlying conditions. And according to a recent study, men's semen might provide signs of their overall health.

Researchers showed that infertile men with more than one defect in their semen were at an increased risk of death compared to men with normal semen.

"Discuss infertility treatment options with your doctor."

This study was led by Michael Eisenberg, MD, PhD, Stanford's director of male reproductive medicine and surgery in Palo Alto, CA.

Dr. Eisenberg and team looked at the records of 11,935 men from two centers in the United States who were being tested for infertility between 1989 and 2001. All of the participants were between the ages of 20 and 50 when they were originally tested.

The researchers then searched the National Death Index and the Social Security Death index to look for information on the participants. The average time of follow-up monitoring was eight years.

"We were able to determine with better than 90 percent accuracy who died during that follow-up time," Dr. Eisenberg said in a press release.

Men with two or more defects in their semen more than doubled their risk of early death compared to men with no semen defects, according to the study data, and the risk continued to rise with each additional abnormality.

The data considered the semen volume, concentration and motility, or percentage of sperm that move.

The study also revealed that men who sought out infertility testing had a lower death rate than the general population. This lower death rate may be attributed to several factors, including potentially higher socioeconomic and educated groups.

Dr. Eisenberg and team were careful to note that while the relationship between semen defects and early death was significant, the cause of this trend is not established and further research is needed to make that determination.

These authors acknowledged that their study was limited by the level of information available on the individuals as well as an inability to know the causes of death.

This study was published online on May 16 in Human Reproduction.

This study was funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver and the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development.

The authors made no disclosures.

Review Date: 
May 15, 2014
Last Updated:
May 16, 2014