Falling Sperm Count – A Cause for Introspection

Falling Sperm Count - NU Hospitals

A very interesting quote says that man has not originated from the egg but from an animalcule that is found in male sperm. For the simple understanding of our readers, animalcules are nothing but microorganisms. This brings you to something very interesting, something which is worth knowing and understanding.

The significance of sperm cells as male reproductive cells is well known. While the two key factors that influence male fertility are sperm count and sperm motility, it hasn’t been heartening to hear that over the years, sperm counts in men have been dropping at an alarming rate.

What could be the reason for such a consistent drop?

Intense research conducted by a group of scientists from Hebrew University indicate that in most of the men, who are residents of  The USA, Europe and the Trans-Tasman neighbours, Australia and New Zealand, there has been a sharp decline in sperm count, upto nearly 50%, since the last three decades. The scientists also predict that this issue would soon take a global turn. 

Does this lead us to conclude that we are probably facing a threat of an early extinction as human beings from planet earth?! Well, even if not as early as one would fear envisaging, the alarm bells have surely begun to ring. The reason for this being genital abnormalities being observed in boys or girls attaining maturity much faster than the normally designated period or even the decline in quality of eggs in adult females.

Scientists are also of the opinion that just a study might not be enough to conclude the research. For example, factors like stress, obesity and smoking are also seen as contributors to the fast depressing sperm counts. According to one of the leading biologist, Anna-Maria Anderson, whose research involved around declining testosterone levels, a chemical revolution, somewhere in the beginning of the 19th century, could well have set the ball rolling for steady decrease in sperm count.

Narrowing down to a more deeper Insight

According to one of the leading scholars of reproductive health, Shana Swan, when a chemical affects your hormones, it is called as an endocrine disruptor. These chemicals have seen to have a significant effect on the reproductive system by damaging our cells. While staying with the theory that low testosterone levels could lower the sperm counts, compounds like Phthalates are consummate endocrine disrupters.

Chemicals like Phthalates are more commonly found for e.g. in lubricants, emulsifying agents and even in the coatings of nutritional supplements. Even more, so to say, these compounds can also be seen used in food processing units! You’ll truly be surprised to hear that even milk, yogurt and soups too contain them in smaller quantities. By this, we get to understand that the presence of these endocrine disrupters, inside our body, in smaller quantities, is unavoidable. 

What is even more interesting is to note that studies have revealed that these endocrine disruptors can be passed over to your next generation making it highly possible that the low sperm count you have would have been inherited from your parent.

Recently, there was a huge discussion on the global platform about Global Warming and Climate Change. While a Climate change can cause any amount of changes in living beings and environment, it is possible that, generations to come, might face a challenge with their reproductive systems. To even compound issues, in addition to low sperm counts, medical scientists were also a bit apprehensive about defective sperms. This could well lead to us seeing something like an alien happening right before us again. Not an immediate possibility now but our gen next scientists could well get more glimpses of a distinct possibility of this to happen. 

Can anything be done?

This is a million dollar question for which answers too can vary as times change. There have been several efforts going on to try and limit the number of endocrine disruptors which are in circulation. Various interesting Literature have been released by the most seasoned to create an awareness of what could be in store. But, it is for the lobbyists to get down to the grassroots level and think beyond personal gains. It should be something more for the cause of generations to follow.

Uncertainty remains, research sometimes conflicts and biological pathways aren’t always clear. The fact here which should not be underestimated at any point of time is that women of child bearing age might steadily run out of eggs by the continuous process of cell death.  There is an immediate need to do more research is necessary, and government regulation and corporate responsibility are crucial to manage risks.

The Bottom Line

While works continue to happen at the scientist’s level, people to people awareness on the subject should be made more consistent. At the same time, people too should not deviate much and adhere to their normal lifestyle. At the same time, try and avoid practices which could have a cascading effect on the generations to come.

Many issues in headlines today won’t much matter in a decade, let alone in a century. Climate change is one exception, and another may be the risks to our capacity to reproduce.

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