A poor sperm count might be a sign of other health problems.
Researchers from Stanford University found high blood pressure, heart disease and skin and glandular disorders might all be linked to low-quality sperm in men.
Lead researcher Dr. Michael Eisenberg explains, "It may be that infertility is a marker for sickness overall."
Eisenberg and his team looked at the medical records of more than 9,000 men who were evaluated for infertility at Stanford Hospital and Clinics between 1994 and 2011.
Medscape Medical News reports the researchers found there was a strong correlation between the infertility issues and the patients with nonischemic heart disease, hypertension, peripheral vascular disease and cerebrovascular disease.
A reporter for Medical Daily said this correlation "made sense," given the profound effects high blood pressure and stress can have on the body.
Stress can be one cause of poor sperm quality. The Mayo Clinic says other causes include infection, hormone imbalances, exposure to heavy metal and even alcohol and tobacco use.
And a study out of Denmark last year also suggested not getting enough sleep can result in lower sperm count.
Now, the Stanford researchers didn't look into how semen deficiencies affect these health issues. This was strictly a correlation study.
Though Fox News reports, "10 to 15 percent of the DNA in a man's body is devoted to reproduction, and most of these genes also have diverse functions in other bodily symptoms."
Eisenberg, who previously found infertile men have a higher chance of dying from cardiovascular disease than fathers do, wants to continue studying the correlation.
He said in a press release: "Given the high incidence of infertility, we need to take a broader view. As we treat men's infertility, we should also assess their overall health. That visit to a fertility clinic represents a big opportunity to improve their treatment for other conditions, which we now suspect could actually help resolve the infertility they came for in the first place."
The study was published Wednesday in the journal Fertility and Sterility.
This video includes an image from Iqbal Osman / CC BY 2.0.