Is male infertility a sign of other health problems ?

Sperm-semen-medical-diabetes-hypertensionIn women who suffer from infertility, their difficulty in conceiving is sometimes a sign of underlying health issues. For instance, it will know that women who suffer from infertility have a higher rate of pregnancy complications, even if they conceived without treatment. One of the most common causes for infertility, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is often associated with underlying metabolic problems and women with PCOS are more likely to develop medical problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. However, what is less clear whether this is also true in men. A recently published study suggest that men with fertility issues and sperm abnormalities may be more likely to have other seemingly unrelated medical problems.

PCOS, inflammation and pregnancy

PCOS-on-ultrasoundPolycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is one the most common hormone problems in women of reproductive age as well as one of the most common causes for female infertility. While infertility caused by PCOS is often amenable to treatment, women with PCOS often have more complicated pregnancies, including problems such as gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia.  One of the common threads with these issues is their association with inflammation. It turns out there may now be a link explaining why PCOS patients have more complications. A recent study shows that markers of inflammation are higher in PCOS women and become even worse when these women get pregnant. It could be that inflammation is the common link between in PCOS and a number of pregnancy complications.

New guidelines for PCOS

ImageThe Endocrine Society has issued new guidelines for the diagnosis of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). These guidelines developed by a special task force are based in part on the Rotterdam criteria and were recently published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Women are diagnosed with PCOS when they have 2 out of the 3 following conditions:

  1. Problems with ovulation such as irregular cycles
  2. Excess levels of male hormone levels on bloodwork or based on symptoms such as abnormal hair growth or loss, acne
  3. Large numbers of ovarian follicles or “cysts” on ultrasound

Additionally, doctors will need to rule other hormonal disorders that may mimic PCOS and are advised to screen for medical diseases such as diabetes and hypertension that are more common in women with PCOS. They also issued recommendations for treatment of infertility and irregular cycles in PCOS patients.

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