• Wed, Dec 5 2012

French Sperm Just Isn’t As Powerful As It Used To Be

Don’t look at me. This is science doing all the talking on this potential fertility crisis. It would appear that French men would do well to keep an eye on their sperm production in the coming years — as well as some men in other countries. I guess we’re all headed to the fertility clinic in a generation or two.

Reuters reports that between 1989 and 2005, researchers have determined a definite sperm decline in the average 35-year-old French man’s semen. Number of sperm in one milliliter of semen fell from about 74 million to about 50 million. That’s an estimated 32 percent decline in spermies. And such findings have some experts a little nervous:

“That’s certainly within the normal range, but if you think about it, if there continues to be a decrease, we would expect that we’ll get into that infertile range,” said Grace Centola, president of the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology in Birmingham, Alabama.

Joëlle Le Moal from the Institut de Veille Sanitaire in France, who led the study, and her team made use of a database of 126 fertility clinics in France. After reviewing recorded semen samples from the aforementioned years, the researchers looked at over 26,000 samples from men whose lady partners later were diagnosed as infertile. According to them, that detail minimized the possibility that these men also had fertility problems. Nevertheless, they determined a two percent annual drop in the number of sperm in one milliliter of the average man’s semen.

An uptick in “abnormally shaped sperm” was also noted during this 16 year span — a detail which Le Moal admits could just have to do with scientists getting better at identifying those wayward swimmers.

Still, while all this sperm news does not necessarily translate to throngs of infertile French men, researchers are pretty confident that it would take longer for their female partners/surrogates/etc. to conceive with this timid sperm. And France isn’t the only country with such gentleman problems.

Le Moal and her colleagues assert that Israel, India, New Zealand and Tunisia are experiencing similar sperm declines as well. She says:

“A decline in male reproduction endpoints has been suspected for several decades and is still debated all around the world. Geographical differences have been observed between countries, and between areas inside countries.”

And the United States might perhaps be one of them? Centola has reportedly noticed a decline in young sperm donors in Boston as well:

“One would look at that and say it’s not all that much. It isn’t, but if it’s occurring on a yearly basis it can add up,” said Centola. “Clearly if this type of decrease continues, we’re going to find that we’re going to have young men that have low sperm counts,” she said.

That and perhaps many a lady looking ahead towards IUI and IVF? Save those pennies, ladies.

(photo: Alex Mit/ Shutterstock)

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  • Lastango

    French sperm looks like, um, tadpoles.