Male infertility in renal failure and transplantation

Scott D. Lundy, Sarah C. Vij


The global disease burden of end stage renal disease (ESRD) is growing rapidly, and organ transplantation remains the gold standard for improving both the quality and quantity of life particularly in young adults. It is therefore critical to understand the effect of ESRD and renal transplantation on male fertility. Many men in renal failure exhibit subfertility or infertility due to several factors including hypogonadism, erectile dysfunction (ED), and direct impairment of spermatogenesis with spermatotoxicity and late stage maturational arrest causing oligospermia or azoospermia. Kidney transplantation has been shown to rescue some—but not all—of these defects, with normalization of reproductive hormonal parameters, improvement in semen parameters (sperm count, motility, morphology), and partial restoration of erectile function. This improvement in fertility is sufficient for a subset to father children either naturally or with assisted reproduction. In this review, we summarize the literature regarding fertility in men with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and on dialysis, and we describe the changes associated with renal transplantation.