Is Male Fertility on the Decline?

With the focus of infertility being so heavily placed on the female members of our population, it is surprising to hear that male infertility accounts for 50% of infertile couples. What is more surprising is that a recent study conducted in Scotland on 7,000 men showed that sperm counts have decreased by 30% since 1989. There appears to be unanimity within the medical scientific community with respect to sperm counts: they are on a downward trend worldwide. So why is this happening? Let’s look at some possibilities.

In a significant number of cases of male infertility, there is a condition called varicocele. This is primarily a testicular disease which compromises blood circulation to the testicles. While no single cause for varicocele has been identified, some would argue that a more sedentary lifestyle could be a strong contributing factor.

Cell phones! Yes, believe it or not, sperm don’t like radiation. A recent study conducted on American men who used their cell phones more than four hours a day showed lower sperm counts compared to men who used their phones less frequently. Note that most men carry their cell phones in their pockets, which constantly exposes sperm to low levels of radiation. So, even when not in use, cell phones may be hazardous to reproductive potential.

Diet: The importance of what you eat cannot be over-emphasized. Heavily processed foods, caffeine in astounding volumes, alcohol, uppers and downers that affect the central nervous system, all directly affect the quality and quantity of sperm.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) such as chlamydia are on the rise, namely due to larger numbers of young women using hormonal birth control. Chlamydia is often a silent fertility killer as most couples are unaware they have the infection until they try to reproduce. Chlamydia creates inflammation of the epididymis, which is where sperm are stored. Inflammation has a direct impact on sperm quality.

Drugs, both recreational and prescribed drugs such as antidepressants, have an effect on sperm function and morphology. Simply imagine someone swimming after a few drinks. Well, your sperm would be doing the same!

The moral of this story is to lead a very moderate lifestyle, eat whole foods, keep your cell phones out of your pockets, get checked out for STDs and keep swimming!

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