Semin Reprod Med 2017; 35(03): 282-290
DOI: 10.1055/s-0037-1603568
Review Article
Thieme Medical Publishers 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA.

Male Infertility and Risk of Nonmalignant Chronic Diseases: A Systematic Review of the Epidemiological Evidence

Clara Helene Glazer1, Jens Peter Bonde1, Michael L. Eisenberg2, Aleksander Giwercman3, Katia Keglberg Hærvig1, Susie Rimborg4, Ditte Vassard5, Anja Pinborg6, Lone Schmidt5, Elvira Vaclavik Bräuner1, 7
  • 1Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Bispebjerg University Hospital, Copenhagen NV, Denmark
  • 2Departments of Urology and Obstetrics/Gynecology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California
  • 3Department of Translational Medicine, Molecular Reproductive Medicine, Lund University, Lund, Sweden
  • 4Faculty Library of Natural and Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen K, Denmark
  • 5Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 6Department of Obstetrics/Gynaecology, Copenhagen University Hospital, Hvidovre, Denmark
  • 7Mental Health Center Ballerup, Ballerup, Denmark
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
28 June 2017 (online)


The association between male infertility and increased risk of certain cancers is well studied. Less is known about the long-term risk of nonmalignant diseases in men with decreased fertility. A systemic literature review was performed on the epidemiologic evidence of male infertility as a precursor for increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and all-cause mortality. PubMed and Embase were searched from January 1, 1980, to September 1, 2016, to identify epidemiological studies reporting associations between male infertility and the outcomes of interest. Animal studies, case reports, reviews, studies not providing an accurate reference group, and studies including infertility due to vasectomy or malignancy were excluded. The literature search resulted in 2,485 references among which we identified seven articles fulfilling the eligibility criteria. Of these, four articles were prospective (three on risk of mortality, one on risk of chronic diseases) and three were cross-sectional relating male infertility to the Charlson Comorbidity Index. The current epidemiological evidence is compatible with an association between male infertility and risk of chronic disease and mortality, but the small number of prospective studies and insufficient adjustment of confounders preclude strong statements about male infertility as precursor of these outcomes.

Authors' Roles

Clara Helene Glazer and Elvira Vaclavik Braüner conceived the study, sifted titles and abstracts, and independently included and excluded articles. Clara Helene Glazer, Elvira Vaclavik Braüner, Katia Keglberg Hærvig, and Ditte Vassard reviewed and rated the individual articles. All authors contributed to the design and provided critical feedback. Susie Rimborg completed the systematic literature search. Clara Helene Glazer drafted the manuscript to which all authors contributed and approved the final version.