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Male Infertility Linked to Other Chronic Medical Conditions

A recent study found that men with infertility have a much higher risk for a variety of other chronic medical conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, renal disease, alcohol abuse, and drug abuse. Thus, it appears that male infertility may be a symptom or a clue that there may be other health problems. One example is that male infertility is linked to an 81% greater risk of diabetes, and the greatest risk for renal disease occurred among men with azoospermia (zero sperm counts, the most severe form of male infertility). From Medscape:

Infertility in Men Tied to Heart Disease, Chronic Conditions

Men with infertility have a higher risk for a variety of other chronic medical conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, alcohol abuse, and drug abuse, according to a retrospective cohort study published online December 7 in Fertility and Sterility."The results suggest that male factor infertility has more than just reproductive implications," write Michael Eisenberg, MD, assistant professor of urology and director of male reproductive medicine and surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine in California, and colleagues.

The researchers used insurance claims data from 2001 to 2008 from the Truven Health MarketScan to identify more than 115,000 patients for the study population. They compared outcomes among 13,027 men diagnosed with male factor infertility (average age, 33 years), with outcomes among 23,860 men (average age, 33 years) who received semen or infertility testing and with outcomes among 79,099 men who had received vasectomies.

The authors looked for 16 conditions: hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, renal disease, chronic pulmonary disease, liver disease, depression, peripheral vascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, ischemic heart disease, other heart disease, injury, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, anxiety disorders, and bipolar disorder.

The men with infertility had higher rates of obesity and smoking, but even after adjustment for these covariates and for age, follow-up time, and healthcare use, men with infertility had a higher risk for multiple conditions compared with vasectomized men or those receiving only fertility testing. Specifically, compared with the men who received fertility testing, men with infertility had a 30% increased risk for diabetes (hazard ratio [HR], 1.30; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.10 - 1.53), a 48% increased risk for ischemic heart disease (HR, 1.48; 95% CI, 1.19 - 1.84) and for alcohol abuse (95% CI, 1.07 - 2.05), a 67% increased risk for drug abuse (HR, 1.67; 95% CI, 1.06 - 2.63), and a 19% increased risk for depression (HR, 1.19; 95% CI, 1.04 - 1.36).

Compared with men who received vasectomies, those with infertility had a 9% higher risk for hypertension (HR, 1.09; 95% CI, 1.02 - 1.17), a 14% greater risk for hyperlipidemia (HR, 1.14; 95% CI, 1.07 - 1.22), a 41% greater risk for ischemic heart disease (HR, 1.41; 95% CI, 1.19-1.67), and a 16% greater risk for other heart disease (HR, 1.16; 95% CI, 1.04 - 1.29). Further, men with infertility, compared with vasectomized men, had an 81% greater risk for diabetes (HR, 1.81; 95% CI, 1.57 - 2.08), a 60% greater risk for renal disease (HR, 1.60; 95% CI, 1.14 - 2.24), a 53% greater risk for liver disease (HR, 1.53; 95% CI, 1.31 - 1.80), and a 52% greater risk for peripheral vascular disorders (HR, 1.52; 95% CI, 1.12 - 2.07).

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