Predetermined Male Infertility
Men are not even a close second to other mammalian creatures when it comes to manufacturing sperm. Humans just can't make a whole lot of sperm that have the capability of making the journey to the all-elusive egg. The World Health Organization reports that only 5%-15% of human male sperm can be said to be normal and these are only found in the semen of young, healthy men. That's opposed to the more than 90% normal sperm that are manufactured by a bull, ram, or laboratory rat. Pretty shocking, don't you think?
Human males are more delicate than you would have thought. They are susceptible to a very large number of fertility issues that include undescended testicles, erectile dysfunction, and cancer. Add environmental exposure to various chemicals and what you have is more and more men who can't father children. Infertility experts say that one out of every seven couples is now diagnosed as infertile, with male infertility the most common cause.
Twenty years ago, Niels Skakkebaek gave a report to a WHO conference in which he stated that sperm counts had fallen to half of what they were 50 years ago. During the 1940's, a typical male had a sperm count of more than 100,000 sperm per milliliter of semen. Today, the level has fallen to 60,000 per milliliter. Research studies have suggested that between 15%-20% of younger males exhibited sperm counts of under 20,000 per milliliter which qualifies as below normal. Now contrast this figure to the 10-figure viable sperm count of a bull.
Experts have been concerned that man would lose the ability to procreate within a few short generations; however the most recent studies suggest that the falling human sperm counts seem to have leveled off. Skakkebaek posited that the declining sperm counts were due to a concurrent rise in the number of reproductive issues for instance testicular cancer. In any event, the majority of experts now believe that male infertility has its start when man is still in his mother's womb.
The declining levels of viable sperm appear to be more a product of the lifestyle of man's mother rather than as a result of his own behavior. Men begin to produce sperm only in adolescence. However, the infrastructure for the production of sperm begins during the third trimester of pregnancy and continues during the six months after birth. Anything that serves as an obstacle to testicular development over these 9 months will forever impact on male fertility.
Pregnant women exposed to high levels of dioxins during a Seveso, Italy accident in 1976, had sons with low sperm counts. But adult men exposed to dioxins at the same levels displayed no similar sperm count problems.
Women who eat large amounts of beef in pregnancy bear sons with low sperm counts because of the accumulated levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons contained in beef. But adult men who ate lots of meat showed no fertility damage.
Pregnant women who smoked had sons with sperm counts that were 40% lower than average. Adult men who smoke have a reduced sperm count of only some 15%. The upshot is that men have one more thing they can blame on Mom: infertility.