Female infertility and future health
Fertility has long been associated with health. Infertility, on the other hand, may be a harbinger for future health risks in women, including early mortality. The authors of this publication suggest that fertility status itself could serve as an early biomarker for risks later in life. Both female and female infertility issues have been linked to cancer, cardiovascular disease, and mortality. Several epidemiological studies have suggested that nulliparity is associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), for example, one of the most common endocrine disorders affecting women, and a top cause of female infertility, is known to increase the risk of future cardiovascular disease (CVD). PCOS is also associated with an increased risk of metabolic disorder and diabetes.
Infertility in women has overall health implications beyond just treating infertility. Doctors should be aware of the broader health impact of specific causes of infertility in order to provide accurate counseling regarding long-term risk.
Pregnancy complications and future health
It's not just fertility itself that may predict future health. A healthy pregnancy may confer risk reduction for future illness. Complications of pregnancy themselves can present unique long-term health risks.
Male infertility and future health
Many studies now show that male infertility may be a window into future health. Male infertility may also be a predictor of hospitalization and mortality. Studies have explored possible links between male infertility and:
- metabolic, and
- autoimmune diseases.
Male infertility is a proxy of the overall male health status. The authors state that "Physicians should comprehensively assess men presenting for infertility and properly follow these patients given their higher risk of developing cancer."
In a 2014 study published in the journal "human reproduction" the authors reported that low semen volume, sperm concentration, sperm motility, total sperm count and total motile sperm count were all associated with higher risk of death in men and men with two or more abnormal semen parameters still had a 2.3-fold higher risk of death compared with men with normal semen.
In a 2016 study published in "Fertility and Sterility," the authors say that men diagnosed with male factor infertility had a significantly higher risk of adverse health outcomes in the years after an infertility evaluation. According to the authors, these findings suggest the overall importance of men's reproductive health and warrant additional investigation to understand the association and identify interventions to improve outcomes for these patients.