The death of sperm

No this is not a joke. Dropping sperm count has been labelled a global problem.

We hear a lot about the man drought, but now it seems we have another worry to add to our list: a decline in sperm quality. Seriously. After the findings of a new study, low sperm count is being labelled a global concern. Apparently modern semen has fewer formed sperm. Now that's not good for anyone!

After a 16-year study, researchers in France found that French men's sperm count has dropped a huge 32.3 percent – that’s two percent every single year. This isn't low enough to make the men (a total of 26,000 took part in the experiment) infertile, but it can limit a guy’s baby-making skills and is a serious health concern. To date, this is the largest study to measure the decline in sperm quality, with one of the researchers, Dr. Joelle Le Moal, saying, "This constitutes a serious public health warning." Consider us warned. How did researchers get their hands on so much sperm you ask? They examined the little swimmers of guys who visited fertility clinics because their partner had problems conceiving. So none of the guys actually had fertility problem to start with, but it seems that by the end of the long study, things were looking bleaker for men. So why are sperm dying, or at least weakening? Researchers blame environmental factors, including increased exposure to chemicals and bad diet, both of which can influence hormones.

And it seems this is a global problem: Israeli sperm banks have reportedly been increasingly turning away guys with weak seamen, and an earlier British study found sperm counts have dropped by half in developed countries since 1938. While this French study can’t be directly applied to other countries, researchers believe it is still a reason for the rest of us to be alarmed. Le Moal said she hopes her findings will bring this issue to an international stage and encourage other developed nations, like Australia, to start monitoring the sperm levels of their guys.

So are Aussie guys suffering the same fate? Last year, the director of the Center for Reproductive Epidemiology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, Shanna Swan, told The Daily Beast that the yearly sperm drop for Australian men is approximately three percent, but she conceded it’s hard to know for sure without more in-depth local research.

"Our example could help other countries to implement their own systems," Le Moal said. "International monitoring systems could be a good idea to understand what is happening on human reproductive outcomes around the world, and evaluate public health actions in [the] future." Sorry, Aussie men.