A new study now finds that men with low sperm counts are at higher risks of potentially deadly illnesses like heart disease and diabetes.
The study found that odds of high blood pressure, cholesterol and more body fat were 20 per cent higher for those with low sperm counts.
Notably, one in every 20 men struggles with some form of infertility issue.
The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Padova, in Italy, said that their findings mean doctors and men should see sperm count as an early symptom for possible illnesses later in life.
Another recent study found that global sperm counts and qualities have been plummeting in recent years, a pattern that many scientists have warned may itself be a warning sign of bigger problems for the future of the human race.
The causes of low sperm counts - considered to be anything under 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen - are complex and include both genetic and lifestyle factors.
While men have hormonal or autoimmune abnormalities that hamper sperm production or destroy sperm, factors like stress, drinking and obesity can also interfere with fertility.
The study, presented Sunday at the Endocrine Society annual meeting, established the phenomenon clearly among a large sample of Western men.
Researchers found that those who had struggled to conceive children with their partners were 20 per cent more likely to have high levels of bad cholesterol and lower levels of good cholesterol.
Taken together, this collection of symptoms is referred to as metabolic syndrome, and it raises men's risks for heart disease, stroke and diabetes, but may be alleviated by lifestyle changes like improved diets, more exercise and avoiding bad habits such as smoking.
These men were also more likely to be overweight or obese and have low levels of testosterone, a condition called hypogonadism.
Speaking about it, lead author of the study Dr Alberto Ferlin said that they did not expect the high prevalence of hypogonadism. Dr Ferlin is a professor of internal medicine and andrology at the University of Padova.
The infertile men whose data was analyzed for the study were at a 12-fold greater risk for hypogonadism than more fertile ones were, and half of those men also had low bone density.
Dr Ferlin said that his study demonstrates that 'infertile men should not be looked at only with a focus on having a child but…from a physician's point of view, you have to consider that [infertility] is a mirror or marker for other illnesses.'
Most of the men included in the study were relatively, with ages hovering around the 30s, according to Dr Ferlin.
All of the related risks are symptoms that worsen with age, and probably had not yet begun to cause any other serious health complications for the infertile men....