Where Have All the Young Sperm Gone? Decreasing Fertility of the Millennial Man
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal (Tuesday July 16, 2013) points out that there by a “sperm crisis” because they believe men’s sperm counts have been decreasing for a decade or more.
A 15 year study in France reported that the sperm concentration of men decreased by nearly one-third between 1989 and 2005. In the U.S., some historical data suggest a decrease in sperm count among American men, but no published recent data exist.
Suspected causes include exposure to pesticides, endocrine-disrupting chemicals like Bisphenol A and lifestyle habits like sitting for too long contribute to the proposed sperm crisis. Also, I reported how men who use lap top computers on top of their genitals for long periods of time, increase the heat to the testicles and the cells that are responsible for sperm production.
In general, men produce upward of 60 million sperm per milliliter of semen. As long as the count is roughly greater than 40 million per ml, men are considered fertile and have the same chance of getting their partners pregnant as someone who produces a higher count. But below that threshold and particularly under about 20 million per ml, their ability to conceive decreases.
Accumulating evidence suggests that early life influences make a difference. Some researchers say that there is a vulnerable period, perhaps between eight and 14 weeks of gestation, in which influences are irreversible. One of the most robust links with decreased sperm count is maternal smoking during pregnancy.
The male’s own current marijuana use was also linked to lower sperm count.
In additional to maternal smoking, there are environmental and lifestyle factors that can affect sperm count which include: shampoos containing phthalates found in plastic bottles, sedentary jobs especially for over hours at a time, hot water such as frequent hot baths which increase scrotal temperature, fatty food appear to contribute to a low count but this impact is potentially reversible.
Bottom Line: By adopting a healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle in pregnancy, you can give your developing baby the very best start in life which will minimize the risk of future decreases in sperm counts.