Poor semen quality linked to hypertension, heart disease

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Washington | Published: December 11, 2014 4:52 PM

Poor semen quality is linked to a higher chance of having hypertension, heart disease, skin disease, according to a new study.

Poor semen quality is linked to a higher chance of having hypertension, heart disease, skin disease and endocrine disorders, according to a new study.

The study of more than 9,000 men with fertility problems found a correlation between the number of different defects in a man’s semen and the likelihood that the man has other health problems.

The study’s lead author, Michael Eisenberg, assistant professor of urology and director of male reproductive medicine and surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine analysed the medical records of 9,387 men, mostly between 30 and 50 years old.

The men had been evaluated at Stanford Hospital & Clinics (now Stanford Health Care) between 1994 and 2011 to determine the cause of their infertility.

The men had routinely provided semen samples, which the researchers assessed for characteristics including volume, concentration and motility.

In about half of all the male infertility cases, the problem was abnormal semen; in the rest, the fault lay elsewhere. Using the database, the investigators were able to compare the overall health status of men who had semen defects to that of the men who didn’t.

With a median age of 38, this was a fairly young group of men. However, 44 per cent of all the men had some additional health problem besides the fertility problem that brought them to the clinic, researchers said.

In particular, the investigators found a substantial link between poor semen quality and specific diseases of the circulatory system, notably hypertension, vascular disease and heart disease.

In addition, as the number of different kinds of defects in a man’s semen rose, so did his likelihood of having a skin disease or endocrine disorder.

When looking at the severity of all health problems, the scientists observed a statistically significant connection between the number of different ways in which a man’s semen was deficient and the likelihood of his having a substantial health problem.

Eisenberg noted that some 15 per cent of all genes in the human genome are connected fairly directly to reproduction, and most of these genes also have diverse functions in other bodily systems.

He also noted that it may not be a disease itself, but the treatment for the disease, that’s actually responsible for reproductive malfunction. He said he is exploring this possibility now.

The study was published in the journal Fertility and Sterility.

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