A new study presented at the European Association of Urology Congress at Munich and published in the Clinical Endocrinology indicates that around a third of infertile men run at a risk of suffering from metabolic diseases as they grow older.
Metabolic diseases are conditions where the body cannot function properly at the cellular level due to its inability to break down nutrients or excrete waste material. Metabolic diseases are often inherited. In such cases, genetic abnormalities may result in the absence of an enzyme required to carry out a chemical reaction. In addition, conditions affecting organs like liver and pancreas can also result in metabolic disorders. Diabetes is a common metabolic disorder where glucose levels in the body are higher than normal.
‘Infertile men may be at a risk of metabolic diseases like diabetes and osteoporosis as they grow older.’
AdvertisementFertility problems or an inability to conceive could be due to a medical problem in either the male or the female partner. Infertility in women may occur due to several causes, which may include hormonal conditions, anatomical problems of the genital tract and endometriosis. However, a problem in males also commonly contributes to infertility. A low sperm count or abnormalities in sperms may be the cause of infertility, though hormonal problems like low testosterone levels or other issues may also be responsible.
Swedish researchers have found that young infertile men may be prone to metabolic diseases. Their findings were based on a study on 192 men with a low sperm count, whom they compared with normal males.
The researchers found that around one third of the men with low sperm count below the age of 50 years had low levels of sex hormones and were diagnosed with a condition called hypogonadism. These men were also evaluated for bone mineral density, which is a marker for osteoporosis, and HBA1c, which is a marker of diabetes.
The researchers found that hypogonadal men had low bone density. Bone density gives strength to bones, therefore low bone density could result in osteoporosis and increases the risk of fractures. The men also showed an increase in HbA1c levels and signs of insulin resistance. These factors indicate an increased risk for diabetes.
Diabetes can result in several complications, affecting nearly every organ system. However, complications in both diabetes and osteoporosis can be avoided if they are diagnosed and treated early.
The researchers therefore suggest that any patient with hypogonadism should be followed up to detect any changes related to metabolic diseases like diabetes and osteoporosis, even after they have been treated for their infertility. However, more studies are necessary to confirm the findings of the study.
- European Association of Urology Congress Press release