Open Access Open Badges Research article

Determinants of male reproductive health disorders: the Men in Australia Telephone Survey (MATeS)

Carol A Holden1*, Robert I McLachlan12, Marian Pitts3, Robert Cumming4, Gary Wittert5, Johnathon P Ehsani6, David M de Kretser7 and David J Handelsman8

Author affiliations

1 Andrology Australia, Monash Institute of Medical Research, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

2 Prince Henry's Institute, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

3 Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University, Victoria, Australia

4 Centre for Education & Research on Ageing and School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

5 Department of Medicine, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA, Australia

6 Formerly: Department of Human Services, Victoria, Australia

7 Monash Institute of Medical Research, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

8 Department of Andrology, Concord Hospital, ANZAC Research Institute, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

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Citation and License

BMC Public Health 2010, 10:96  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-96

Published: 24 February 2010



The relationship between reproductive health disorders and lifestyle factors in middle-aged and older men is not clear. The aim of this study is to describe lifestyle and biomedical associations as possible causes of erectile dysfunction (ED), prostate disease (PD), lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) and perceived symptoms of androgen deficiency (pAD) in a representative population of middle-aged and older men, using the Men in Australia Telephone Survey (MATeS).


A representative sample (n = 5990) of men aged 40+ years, stratified by age and State, was contacted by random selection of households, with an individual response rate of 78%. All men participated in a 20-minute computer-assisted telephone interview exploring general and reproductive health. Associations between male reproductive health disorders and lifestyle and biomedical factors were analysed using multivariate logistic regression (odds ratio [95% confidence interval]). Variables studied included age, body mass index, waist circumference, smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity, co-morbid disease and medication use for hypertension, high cholesterol and symptoms of depression.


Controlling for age and a range of lifestyle and co-morbid exposures, sedentary lifestyle and being underweight was associated with an increased likelihood of ED (1.4 [1.1-1.8]; 2.9 [1.5-5.8], respectively) and pAD (1.3 [1.1-1.7]; 2.7 [1.4-5.0], respectively. Diabetes and cardiovascular disease were both associated with ED, with hypertension strongly associated with LUTS and pAD. Current smoking (inverse association) and depressive symptomatology were the only variables independently associated with PD. All reproductive disorders showed consistent associations with depression (measured either by depressive symptomatology or medication use) in both age-adjusted and multivariate analyses.


A range of lifestyle factors, more often associated with chronic disease, were significantly associated with male reproductive health disorders. Education strategies directed to improving general health may also confer benefits to male reproductive health.