A new study has shown that the fertility of the average man has fallen sharply in the last twenty years, with the average number and quality of sperm in men declining dramatically. So, should we be worried about this dramatic drop in male fertility?
The study was conducted in France and looked at the reproductive health of 26,600 men. The research stated that there had been a “significant and continuous” 32.2 per cent reduction in sperm concentration in just 17 years. Between 1989 and 2005, numbers of sperm per millilitre of semen fell at about two per cent a year. The study suggested that average 35-year-old man would see his sperm count drop from around 73.6 million per millilitre of semen to 49.9 million.
Will this drop in male fertility affect the time it takes to conceive?
Probably. Dr Joelle Le Moal, was one of the doctors on the study. He stated: “The 2005 values are lower than the 55 million per millilitre threshold, below which sperm concentration is expected to influence the time it takes to conceive.”
What’s is causing this decline in male fertility?
Some studies suggest that environmental factors, such as endocrine disrupters – chemicals that upset hormone balances in the body – might be behind the trend. Certainly, male infertility could be caused by such factors.
What does this mean for male fertility going forward?
Professor Richard Sharpe, from the University of Edinburgh, said in the Daily Telegraph in December 2012 : “The take-home message from the study is extremely simple – sperm number and sperm quality has declined progressively over the study period.
“In the UK this issue has never been viewed as any sort of health priority, perhaps because of doubts as to whether ‘falling sperm counts’ was real. Now, there can be little doubt that it is real, so it is a time for action.
“Doing nothing will ensure that couple fertility and average family size will decline below even its present low level and place ever greater strains on society.”
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This post first appeared in 2013 and has been updated since.