Many men visit our Austin fertility specialists with questions about their sperm count when they are thinking about fatherhood. New research reveals some surprising information about male fertility: men today may have lower sperm counts than their fathers and grandfathers.
In July, a long-range study of nearly 43,000 men was published in Human Reproduction Update. The study revealed that sperm count and sperm concentration declined from 1973 to 2011 among men in North America, Europe, New Zealand and Australia.
Specifically, sperm count declined by 59%, and sperm concentration went down by 52%. There was an overall yearly decline in sperm count of 1.6% and a decline in sperm concentration of 1.4%. Sperm concentration refers to the number of sperm in each milliliter of fluid, whereas sperm count refers to sperm concentration multiplied by total ejaculate volume.
One of the suggested reasons for the decline in sperm count and concentration is exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals. In fact, such chemicals can affect a male’s growing reproductive system while he is still in the womb. Other potential causes of low sperm count include obesity, stress, tobacco use and testicular heat exposure.
Our Austin fertility specialists have several recommendations for men who want to become fathers. Our physicians recommend maintaining a healthy weight, giving up cigarettes, reducing stress and avoiding exposure to heat and chemicals. Chemicals of specific concern to males are phthalates, which are included in many personal care products under the label of fragrance. By avoiding products with fragrance, men can avoid phthalates.
If you’d like in-depth information about your reproductive potential, male fertility testing can give you a clearer picture. Testing involves a semen analysis, which can tell you more about your sperm count, motility (movement) and morphology (shape). Semen analysis is usually covered by insurance.
If you are interested in scheduling a semen analysis, please contact our Austin fertility center.