Defects in semen linked to health problems like hypertension

Sperm fertilizing egg

Poor semen quality may be an indicator of other health issues.

The findings come from a recent study of over 9,000 men who were evaluated for infertility between 1994 and 2011. (The median age of the participants was 38.) Researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine then evaluated semen samples for volume, concentration and motility. The assessments found that about half of these men had abnormal semen. From there, researchers compared their overall health to that of men who had healthy semen.

Most notably, a link was established between semen abnormalities and circulatory diseases like hypertension, heart disease and vascular disease. Additionally, the more semen defects a man had, the more likely he was to have a skin disease or endocrine disorder.

“A man’s health is strongly correlated with his semen quality,” lead author Michael Eisenberg, MD, director of male reproductive medicine and surgery at Stanford says in a statement.

Eisenberg goes on to say that men being treated for infertility should also have their overall health assessed.

In similar men’s health news, an unrelated study out of the University of Otago in New Zealand has found that sperm quality appears to decrease with age. After analyzing the data of 90 international studies, researchers have identified some key trends. For starters, semen volume consistently declined with age, as did sperm performance. Additionally, older age was associated with a higher chance of sperm being malformed or having DNA damage.

The analysis is raising the question of whether older, declining semen has any affect on the healthy development of its offspring.

“Older males contribute to increased risk of obstetric complications, miscarriage, and offspring disorders such as autism, Down syndrome, epilepsy and schizophrenia,” co-author Neil Gemmell says in a statement.

Researchers report that the findings are significant as more and more couples are starting families later in life.

Sources: Stanford University School of Medicine, the University of Otago

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