The sperm count of French men fell by a third between 1989 and 2005, a study suggests.
The semen of more than 26,600 French men was tested in the study, reported in the journal Human Reproduction.
The number of millions of spermatozoa per millilitre fell by 32.3%, a rate of about 1.9% a year. And the percentage of normally shaped sperm fell by 33.4%.
The average sperm count remained within the fertile range, but experts want to see more research into possible causes.Why this is, is a mystery, if the study is indeed not flawed in some as yet unknown way. Which it may well be -- apparently the method for counting sperm has changed over the years, yielding lower totals, so this could simply be a reflection of that fact. Or not.
Prof Richard Sharpe, from the University of Edinburgh, said: "Something in our modern lifestyle, diet or environment like chemical exposure, is causing this.
"We still do not know which are the most important factors, but perhaps the most likely is a combination, a double whammy of changes, such as a high-fat diet combined with increased environmental chemical exposures."This is a deposit crisis that doesn't involve banks (except, perhaps, sperm banks). But does it matter? Probably not. At least, we know of no evidence that fertility is lower. Indeed,
Dr Allan Pacey, senior lecturer in andrology at the University of Sheffield, said: "The change in sperm concentration described, 73.6 to 49.9 million per millilitre [on average for a 35-year-old], is still well within the normal range and above the lower threshold of concern used by doctors which is suggestive of male infertility, 15 million per millilitre."It's just that each sperm cell has a better chance of hitting the jackpot.
Or, perhaps, this is some sort of strong natural selection based on some lifestyle factor that makes its way to netherland. That could be natural selection without the agony of its normal cruelty to organisms.
Or, perhaps the missing sperm are miners' canaries: maybe they tell us that there's something in the water--or wine--that is responsible. If so, there might some day soon be the ejaculation "Eureka!" as the risk factor is found.
Anyway, this is something hard to get one's hands around, but could be more than a downer for French amour.