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New study shows sperm counts are significantly reduced

Category: Male Specific Tests

Recent research conducted by colleagues at the Institut de Veille Sanitaire, Saint Maurice in France revealed that males have experienced a significant drop in their sperm counts, reported Medical News Today. 

The investigators analyzed data from 26,000 men who belonged to the French assisted reproduction technology (ART) database, Fivnat. The scientists found that there has been a 32.2 percent reduction in semen concentration, also known as sperm count, in the 17 years prior to and including 2005. The news source also reported that the number of "normally-formed" sperm decreased by 33.4 percent.

While the study's average sperm count is still labeled as "fertile" by the World Health Organization, according to Medical News Today, the research coauthor, Joëlle Le Moal, M.D., an environmental health epidemiologist, noted that some of the subjects' counts were below that and could be categorized as infertile.

"The 2005 values are lower than the 55 million per milliliter threshold, below which sperm concentration is expected to influence the time it takes to conceive," said Moal, as quoted by the news source.

Worse than expected
While some variables such as age, time of year and the facility where the samples obtained were factored into the study, the investigators noted that possible influences like lifestyle, weight and smoking habits were not considered. The researchers reported that people who usually partake in ART tend to be more educated, which usually indicates that they lead healthier lifestyles and should have higher sperm concentrations. This may imply that the general population's sperm counts are lower than the study's results indicate.

Environmental factors
The study investigators noted that more research is necessary to explore environmental influences that may be responsible for the results. They pointed to endocrine disruptors, which are compounds that affect the body's hormones, as possible culprits. While endocrine disruptors can be natural, many times they are in manmade products that range from medications to pesticides, detergents, toys and cosmetics.

According to Medical News Today, endocrine disruptors may also influence the outcome of genes and the behavior of cells.

Moal hopes that the research will be a catalyst for authorities to be more adamant in limiting public exposure to endocrine disruptors. She also noted that France plans to monitor the ART system and she wishes other countries would do the same with their sperm databases.

Sperm count analysis
The Mayo Clinic reports that patients can have their sperm counts taken with a semen analysis test. If the test indicates low sperm count, other exams, such as a blood test, scrotal ultrasound, genetic test and testicular biopsy, may also be conducted.

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