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Urology. 2015 May;85(5):1068-1073. doi: 10.1016/j.urology.2014.12.052. Epub 2015 Mar 25.

Medical testosterone: an iatrogenic cause of male infertility and a growing problem.

Author information

1
Department of Urology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL. Electronic address: pkolettis@uabmc.edu.
2
Department of Urology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL.
3
Department of Urology, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To determine (1) the frequency of testosterone (T) use in 2 academic male infertility practices, (2) the effect on semen parameters, and (3) the potential for reversibility.

METHODS:

We performed a retrospective review. Inclusion criteria were supplemental T usage at the time of initial visit, T cessation, and semen analyses before and after T cessation.

RESULTS:

From January 2005 to March 2011, 110 of 1540 patients evaluated for infertility (7.1%) were on supplemental T. Thirty-nine patients met the inclusion criteria. Twenty-two of 39 patients (56%) were started on medical recovery by medical treatment. Median sperm concentration increased from 0 to 6.3 million/mL (P <.0001) after T cessation, with median follow-up of 4.5 months. Eight men (21%) remained azoospermic, and 3 men had sperm concentrations of ≤ 0.1 million/mL. Fifteen of 22 men given medical treatment and 16 of 17 men given no treatment had sperm return to the semen, respectively (P = .1061). Final sperm concentration did not differ between those who received medical treatment and those who did not.

CONCLUSION:

Exogenous T treatment causes infertility and is common among reproductive-aged men. These effects are transient for some, but not all men had return of sperm to the semen during the study interval, suggesting a possible underlying primary testicular dysfunction or ongoing hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis suppression. Education about exogenous T's negative reproductive effects is necessary to avoid this preventable form of infertility. Men with low T levels should have sufficient evaluation to evaluate for underlying pathology before starting T.

Comment in

PMID:
25819620
DOI:
10.1016/j.urology.2014.12.052
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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