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Report Says One in Five Men is "Sub-fertile." Why Sperm is Taking Such a Hit.

Low sperm count male infertility

Male fertility going down?

A new report from the European Science Foundation says that male infertility is on the rise. Over the last 50 years, sperm counts have dropped significantly. Surprisingly, the report says that 20% of men between the ages of 18-25 have sperm in the “subfertile” range.

According to the report, 10% of couples worldwide are considered infertile. The National Institutes of Health says that when a couple cannot conceive, one third of the time the issue lies with the woman’s reproductive system, one third of the time with the man’s. The final third is both or neither, without a pinpointed cause.

Why are men becoming less fertile?

The European report says that male reproductive health has been steadily declining, due to obesity, smoking, and prenatal factors. For example, if a man smokes, his sperm quality is affected. And it’s significantly affected if his mother smoked while pregnant.

The NIH states the following reasons for male infertility:

  • Age
  • Stress
  • Exposing the testes to high temperatures, which can affect the ability of the sperm to move and to fertilize an egg.  For instance:
    • Cryptorchism is a condition where the testes do not descend into the scrotum.
    • Tight underwear—For some men, wearing tight underwear can also increase the temperature of the testes.
  • Smoking, drugs, and alcohol
  • Medications
  • Environmental toxins
  • Genetic conditions, such as Klinefelter syndrome
  • Other health problems

The fact that sperm quality has dropped significantly in recent decades says that something other than genetics is at play here. Is the environment and our health and lifestyle habits to blame for falling fertility?

Image: everystockphoto/bhav

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