The present crisis in male reproductive health: an urgent need for a political, social, and research roadmap

Andrology. 2019 Nov;7(6):762-768. doi: 10.1111/andr.12673. Epub 2019 Jun 26.


Background: There is a global crisis in male reproductive health. Evidence comes from globally declining sperm counts and increasing male reproductive system abnormalities, such as cryptorchidism, germ cell tumors, and onset of puberty. Male factor infertility occurs in ~40% of couples experiencing infertility. Data demonstrate an association between male infertility and overall health. Associated significant health conditions include diabetes mellitus, metabolic disorders, and cardiovascular disease. Adding to the complexity is that men typically do not seek health care unless there is acute medical need or, as in the case of the infertile couple, the male goes for a reproductive examination and semen analysis. However, 25% of the time a reproductive health examination does not occur. Couples are increasingly utilizing IVF at more advanced ages, and advanced paternal age is associated with increased risk for (i) adverse perinatal outcomes for both offspring and mother; (ii) early child mortality, cancer, and mental health issues. In addition to age, paternal lifestyle factors, such as obesity and smoking, impact not only the male fertility but also the offspring wellness.

Objectives: The purpose of this paper was (i) to spotlight emerging and concerning data on male reproductive health, the relationship(s) between male reproductive and somatic health, and the heritable conditions father can pass to offspring, and (ii) to present a strategic roadmap with the goals of increasing (a) the awareness of men and society on the aforementioned, (b) the participation of men in healthcare seeking, and (c) advocacy to invigorate policy and funding agencies to support increased research into male reproductive biology.

Conclusions: The Male Reproductive Health Initiative (MRHI) is a newly established and rapidly growing global consortium of key opinion leaders in research, medicine, funding and policy agencies, and patient support groups that are moving forward the significant task of accomplishing the goals of the strategic roadmap.

Keywords: assisted reproduction; epigenetics; funding; male health; male reproduction; policy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Male / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Reproductive Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Semen Analysis
  • Sexual Maturation / physiology*
  • Sperm Count / statistics & numerical data
  • Spermatozoa / physiology