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August 9, 2017

Declining Fertility

In the film, Children of Men. infertility threatens mankind with annihilation. The movie focuses on women's infertility and the consequences of a world without children---a world doomed to extinction.

A new study offers alarming news
A recent major new study, published in Human Reproduction Update Journal outlined the shocking findings that Western men's sperm counts have been in "significant decline". When we heard about the findings that sperm concentrations in Western men had declined by more than 50 percent over the past almost 40 years, we were reminded of the movie immediately.

Methodology
Over the past 38 years, the study looked at sperm counts in of 43,000 men in Australia, North America and Europe. Led by Israeli researchers, the study reviewed hundreds of studies into sperm quality between 1973 and 2011. The men tested included those with no concerns about their fertility and those with children.

Contributing Factors
Some of the factors associated with the variability in results are prenatal exposures, sexually transmitted disease history, smoking, and occupational exposures; Western lifestyle and obesity could also be to blame.

Serious implications
A significant decline in male reproductive health has serious implications beyond fertility concerns. Researchers found increasing percentages of men had sperm counts below the threshold for infertility, concentration below 40 million/ml. Sperm concentrations below this threshold are associated with a decreased monthly probability of conception and therefore, natural conception rates.

Men elsewhere not as critically affected
Men in South America, Asia, and Africa seem to be less affected than those in Western developed countries. There was no reduction in sperm decline in men in these regions, however the researchers said limited studies from those countries could be the cause.

Further study will be important
The challenge will be to identify and address potential negative factors on male fertility, including lifestyle, obesity, and other contributors that are rising in developed countries. Of special interest is the role of environmental poisons for which there is plenty of evidence in certain populations. The researchers also suggested that future research should focus on identifying lifestyle factors behind falling sperm count.

What's next?
Unless we identify and take steps to eliminate these environmental toxins, we can expect to see continually declining male fertility.

Comments from our readers:
On the other hand, this decline may simply represent nature's response to our overpopulation. There's a rich scientific literature showing that a normal response to high population desities in almost every major animal phyla (including mammals) is an increase in factors that lower population density. "Plague locusts" in turns out are just ordinary grasshoppers in non-plague years. Kaibab deer populations and wolves. Rabbits and wolves. Field mice and resources. Humans -- why not? And there's another recent study demonstrating the ability to transform any cell (skin cell for example) into a completely functional "totipotent" germ cell---Google "gametogenesis."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Michael E. Egan, PhD, CMC®
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         SVP, Dallas Marketing Group, Inc.


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