Infertility has historically been associated with a woman’s inability to conceive, but doctors are now finding that a couple’s difficulty making a baby may be due to a man’s low sperm count, something that is getting the attention of researchers around the world.
Sperm counts in Western countries have dropped 52% since 1973.
“When we evaluate a couple attempting to conceive we find 40% of the time it’s either a male factor contributing to infertility or it’s only a male factor contributing to infertility,” says Dr. Mazen Abdallah, a reproductive specialist with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth and Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital and medical director of the Houston Fertility Institute.
He says there are many factors contributing to the decline. “Smoking, plastic products that are unfortunately disposed of in landfills and then come back to us in the water we drink, and several other toxins available in our environment,” he rattles off the top of his head. Obesity is also a likely contributing factor, he suggests, and more sedentary lifestyles. The Mayo Clinic lists risk factors.
Dr. Abdallah says many of the cases are treatable, but not all.