November 8, 2010

A Species in Decline: Sperm

Got your attention? Good.

A warning, this is one of my...less family friendly posts.  
Viewer discretion advised

Now, onward

So this isn't about the so called 'War on Men'. This is, simply put, about how our current methods of business (and life really) aren't particularly friendly to the little swimmers. Chemicals of all sorts (whether intentionally taken in or not) and environment are detrimental to the little fellas. As with most phenomena that occur in life,  multiple reasons lie behind it.

Firstly, even at the best of circumstances, a man's sperm has only 50-70% viability due to the process...that is why males have literally millions at any one time, sort of a quantity over quality production process. For an explanation of 'environment' the thing I am referring to in this case are laptops. Sperm exist best about 2 degrees Celsius below body temperature (so 35 degrees, or 94.8 F, about 4 degrees below body temperature in Fahrenheit). The body itself is fairly good at maintaining this temperature, and has many means in place to keep it at this temperature. Anything above or below this temp results in a decrease in sperm production or killing the sperm period, which is a problem because it takes 72 days to produce a single sperm. Now, why bring this up? The increased use of laptops. A study done at Cornell in 2007 showed that the average laptop user's lap can reach 105 degrees Fahrenheit, well above what is ideal. As a result, males who use laptops in the study were shown to have a smaller sperm count than the norm.

So, just put a laptop on a table right? Problem solved. Wrong. This is merely one of the many things that's killing off the little guys. So let's hit the next thing I discussed: Diet

The average male American takes in about 250 mg of caffeine a day. And most Americans (and most of the world) have a solid caffeine addiction. Caffeine has several known side effects (dehydration, possible impairment of memory and heart problems) but a study in Copenhagen has found another: decreasing sperm count. The study finds that, with Cola specifically, it can decrease your sperm count up to 30% if you drink up to a liter of soda. Now a liter sounds like a lot all at once, however statistics have shown that the average American drinks about 216 liters over the course of a year, so every day the average American drinks approximately .6 liters of soda a day, enough to skill affect the little guys.

It should come as little surprise that alcohol and tobacco, especially in conjunction, have been know to limit sperm count. Unlike alcohol and tobacco, however, there is little evidence that a heightened BMI decreases sperm count, in spite of my rants about the subject. At the other end of the scale, a 'healthy' food can also cause of lowered sperm counts as well.What I'm speaking of is soy products. While a reasonably healthy alternate method to get protein, soy products contain isoflavones, a type of phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens, as the name implies, act much like estrogen in the body.As a result the male body responds to it in kind, down-regulating the production of male hormones needed to produce sperm, specifically if consumed during childhood when such chemical interference can interfere in the later years.

Now for the REALLY fun one.

What is the biggest scam of the twentieth and twenty-first century? Survey says.... Bottled water! Ignoring the fact that most bottled water does not in fact come from a spring but from a tap (if you're lucky its filtered at some point), there is another rather frightening fact about the stuff.

The bottles have chemicals that leech into the water. These chemicals are called xenoestrogens and are found in most plastic bottles. Much like phytoestrogens as above, when they enter the body they act very much like estrogen, down-regulating male processes (and causing girls to develop more at a younger age).

One specific chemical is called Bisphenol-A (or BPA). BPA is used widely to make plastic harder and watertight tin cans. It is found in most food and drink cans ( including tins of infant formula milk), plastic food containers, and the casings of mobile phones and other electronic goods. It's often referred to as a 'gender bending chemical' and has been linked to increased male infertility. And is toxic in its own right.

Of course pollution and malnutrition also are common factors towards a decreased sperm count as well.

So what do we come to with all these factors? Is infertility on the rise? Recent studies are saying the answer is... yes some places. In the US, signs seem to point to no, though the topic has become far more prominent, causing a perceived increase in infertility due to a larger public awareness. At least that's the answer so far, without taking into account the many new chemicals flooding the market

Abroad though, for example in China and Britain,  there seems to be a greater indication that infertility is beginning to become a greater problem. For both of these locations there has been a great deal of pollution, as well as an increase in the use of other substances described above

Death by SNOO SNOO!
So what now? Do we think that men will slowly die off, leaving women to rule the earth, searching for men to trade as currency to trade about?

Probably not.

What's more likely is that industrialized nations will continue to have smaller populations while 'third world' nations will continue to balloon up in population. This is exacerbated by industrialized nations having fewer children per couple by choice anyhow. That and the phrase 'third world nation' is becoming an ever increasing misnomer these days anyhow (TED talks are awesome)

The really fun bit is I know some guys who will take these stats as advice to get their sperm count lower...

Can't WAIT to see the ads that pop up with this one


A few other things, we broke over 100 views this month! Woo
And also, as you can see I did some editing of the overall layout. Look good?

Thanks for reading,


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