French people are among the healthiest nations in the world, but even so, their sperm is sinking, not swimming, according to a recent study.
The study analyzed the little swimmers from 26.600 men, taken in a span of 17 years, and they found a significant decrease in quality as time passes – both in concentration and morphology.
“To our knowledge, it is the first study concluding a severe and general decrease in sperm concentration and morphology at the scale of a whole country over a substantial period,” the authors wrote. “This constitutes a serious public health warning. The link with the environment particularly needs to be determined.”
Studies are scarce in this field – anecdotal report from sperm banks and small, local studies are pretty much the only source of information – which is actually kind of pretty sad, because despite the tabu nature of the subject, this is quite an important issue.
The researchers examined sperm samples from men who visited fertility clinics because of their female partners’ fertility problems – in other words, the guys had no problem whatsoever themselves. Over the 17 year period, a drop in concentration of 32.2 percent was found, averaging at 1.9 percent each year. If we were to put that in numbers, it translates to a drop from 73.6 million sperm per milliliter of semen in 1989 for an average 35-year-old man to 49.9 million sperm per milliliter in 2005. According to the WHO (World Health Organization), a fertile man has at least 15 million sperm per milliliter.
The next step is to figure out why this happens, and if it is limited to France or if it happens to the entire developed world, as a result of environmental factors.