Are Today’s Men Less Fertile?
Are Today’s Men Less Fertile?
Renowned investigators from all over the world attended the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology Annual Conference and debated on an important question; “is it true that a young man today is more likely to face fertility problems than his father?”
And the answer unfortunately is affirmative.
Less Fertile Men – Is This A New Concern?
The sub fertility and impaired fecundity in men is on the rise and has been recognized as a fairly prevalent issue across the globe. Although the debate is fairly old, yet investigators have not been able to find the exact cause or pathophysiology that is causing this decline.
According to a statistical analysis published in 1992, investigators examined the data obtained from 61 studies reported over the course of past 5 decades (1940 to 1990) on the sperm quality and discovered that (1):
- The quality and count of sperms has declined by 40% over the course of 5 decades (from 1940 to 1990).
- The French scientists also identified that only during a small period from 1989 to 2005, the average sperm concentration in men has declined by about one-third.
Many other European scientists have conducted research studies on male reproductive health and discovered that males in the age range between 18 to 25 years are at highest risk of experiencing a decline in the male sexual health, especially in terms of quality and count of sperms.
It is imperative to mention that European men are not the only victim of fertility problems. Scattered studies and statistics suggested that fertility issues are now more common in American men when compared to a few decades earlier. However, so far no study or trial has been conducted to establish the causative association.
Sperm Crisis – What Should You Know About It?
According to Reproductive Health experts, more men are experiencing the phenomenon ‘sperm crisis’ which entails that average sperm count is declining with every successive generation, not just in terms of sperm count, but also in terms of quality (such as morphology, motility and other criteria of sperm health etc.)
Various theories and scientific explanations have been proposed to explain this phenomenon; for example, the significant decrease in number of sperms is an indicator of overall deteriorating health status in men. Healthcare providers also believes that this trend can also be a sign of environmental changes around us; for example:
- According to a new study reported in the Environmental Pollution (3) journal, investigators proposed that excessive exposure to industrial chemicals such as PBA and pesticides is very strongly linked to low sperm count in men. Based on the urine analysis, investigators discovered that males with high urinary concentration of certain metabolites (such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, phthalates, and synthetic pyrethroids) are at higher risk of experiencing low sperm count and fertility issues.
- It is proposed that persistent exposure to chemicals that mimic estrogen in the body can also cause a serious deterioration in the male fertility and spermatogenesis (4).
- Slothful and sedentary lifestyle, excessive consumption of alcohol, drug abuse and obesity are also well-known causes of low sperm concentration in men.
- Impaired fertility in men can also be an adverse effect or delayed complication of in-vitro exposure to certain drugs, chemicals or toxins. For example, association of DES (or diethylstilbestrol) with impaired male fertility is very high and has been documented in various research studies. Diethylstilbestrol was first discovered in 1933 and was approved by FDA in 1947 for growth stimulation in cattle. Various other steroids (such as estradiol benzoate and progesterone) and other hormonal additives are currently used in the meat growth industry.
If you are suffering from sub-fertility or low sperm count, it is highly recommended to see a sexual health expert in order to discuss pathophysiology and possible management options. In most cases, a reevaluation of diet and lifestyle choices is the only intervention needed to restore the normal quality of sex life.
1. DSouza, U. J., DSouza, V. M., & Narayana, K. (2004). Is todays male population really less fertile? Declining semen quality-a global phenomenon?[letter]. Indian journal of medical sciences, 58(7), 305-306.
2. Swan, S. H., Liu, F., Overstreet, J. W., Brazil, C., & Skakkebaek, N. E. (2007). Semen quality of fertile US males in relation to their mothers’ beef consumption during pregnancy. Human Reproduction, 22(6), 1497-1502.
3. Jurewicz, J., Radwan, M., Sobala, W., Radwan, P., Jakubowski, L., Wielgomas, B., … & Hanke, W. (2016). Exposure to widespread environmental endocrine disrupting chemicals and human sperm sex ratio. Environmental Pollution, 213, 732-740.
4. McLachlan, J. A. (2016). Environmental signaling: from environmental estrogens to endocrine‐disrupting chemicals and beyond. Andrology.