Last week, 400 sperm experts gathered to discuss dropping sperm counts at a sperm congress in the Netherlands, according to ‘Declining sperm quality and diseases linked to environmental issues’.
In the last 20 years, sperm counts have dropped by a third in Western nations. Potential causes: chemicals in disposable plastics, pesticides in tap water and the wearing of overly tight pants.
Nigerian hot pants
But Western nations are not the only ones affected by dropping sperm counts. It’s a global phenomenon.
“In Nigeria, the male factor contribution to infertility is estimated to be about 54 per cent, based on semen analysis,” according Professor Oluyemi Akinloye in ‘Nigeria: How environmental factors fuel male infertility’.
“Akinloye linked involuntary male infertility to hormonal disturbances, environmental factors such as diet and toxic elements, genetic aberrations, improper medical waste disposal by healthcare workers, exposure to environmental pollutants, human activities like occupational factors and climate change.”
Yes, climate change. Since the world is getting hotter, so are your pants – and hot pants fry sperm.
Can the rising use of synthetic fibres in pants also be partially blamed for dropping sperm counts?
“Egyptian urologist Ahmed Shafik wanted to know the toll that trousers might take on male rats. He made murine trousers – covering the animals’ hind legs with a hole for the tail – in various cloths: 100% polyester, 50/50% polyester/cotton, all cotton and all wool,” according to ‘Ig Nobel prizes: trousers for rats and the truthfulness of liars’.
“Rats that wore polyester showed ‘significantly lower’ rates of sexual activity, Shafik found, perhaps because of the electrostatic charges created by the material. Cotton-and-wool wearing rats were relatively normal.”
Pressure on China’s sperm banks
“China’s infertility rate has been increasing, in part because of rising pollution levels and increasingly sedentary lifestyles that affect reproductive health,” according to ” ‘The end of China’s one-child policy has put huge pressure on the nation’s sperm banks’.
Infertility affects an estimated 15% of Chinese couples.
“The semen-collection room at Peking University Third Hospital is geared toward utility. There’s a portrait of a minimally clothed Western woman, a well-thumbed pornography magazine, a sofa, a sink, a box of tissues and some liquid soap. An emergency button is affixed to the wall. Each day, around 20 donors file in but only 19% of volunteers qualify for the program.”
Emergency button? What could go wrong?
A hands-on way to make a living
Meanwhile in India, an increase in infertile men is allowing horny young boys to earn extra pocket change, according to ‘Going the Vicky donor way: Bhopal college boys look to become sperm donors’.
“You can get paid Rs 2,000 or more every time you donate your sperm. But you can also get paid less – Rs 1,000 or Rs 500, depending on the city you live in,” says one expert.
Do the math: if you can jerk off into a jar 50 times a day, you’d be rich. Rich, I say! And in the process, you can also contribute to finally making masturbation a respectable way of making a living.
No problems, just sperm solutions
Mobile phone radiation is often blamed for dropping sperm counts. But the jury is still out on whether this is true, according to ‘Do phones cause male infertility?’. In fact, mobile phones may even be able to help in the treatment of infertile men.
“Men could soon be encouraged to masturbate and ejaculate onto their iPhone camera, in order to test how fertile they are,” according to ‘An App-y ending: The amazing use of your iPhone camera you never knew about… measuring SPERM COUNT’.
“A Japanese researcher, studying in Illinois, reckons he can create a iPhone microscope which will analyse semen samples for sperm count from the comfort of a bloke’s own home – using a lens which costs just £5.30.”
But while blokes might be more comfortable about masturbating in the comfort of their own home rather than at a clinic, will blokes be comfortable about messing up their brand new iPhone 7?
Schoolboys are our future
Perhaps this is a more viable long-term solution: ‘Human sperm grown in a lab for the first time, claims study’. Sadly, many scientists remain sceptical about this claim even though we’ve been able to make mouse sperm since 2011.
So for now, our future seems to lie with ambitious schoolboys. Go Bhopal!