What sperm count says about overall health

Evaluating health status in a man may be as simple as evaluating his semen.  A new study, published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, looked at the relationship between semen production and medical conditions.  Looking at over 9,000 men evaluated for infertility between 1994 and 2011, researchers found that 44 percent of these men also had one diagnosis unrelated to infertility.

Men with a higher rate of medical comorbidities had lower semen volume, concentration, motility, total sperm count, and morphology scores.  Even if they did not have diagnosed infertility, poor semen quality was correlated with other medical conditions.  Men with diseases of the endocrine, circulatory, genitourinary, and skin diseases all showed significantly higher rates of semen abnormalities.  Looking closer at diseases of the circulatory system, men with hypertensive disease, peripheral vascular and cerebrovascular disease, and nonischemic heart disease all displayed higher rates of semen abnormalities.

According to EurekAlert!, it is not surprising that there are relationships between reproductive and other health.  Approximately 15 percent of the genes in the human genome are directly connected to reproduction.  At the same time, the majority of these genes also play roles in other bodily functions and systems.

Semen quality can be affected by a variety of factors.  A study published in the International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health found that a number of chemical and physical agents that are not naturally occurring, but are introduced and spread by humans, affect male fertility by impacting semen quality.  An earlier study in Fertility and Sterility also noted that work and life stress can adversely impact semen quality.

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