Better to be a mouse than a man
Sunday 28 April 1996
Men are becoming so infertile that they now produce only a third as much sperm as hamsters, scientists have found, writes Geoffrey Lean.
Studies from around the world show that human fertility is dropping alarmingly - by about a million sperms per millilitre of semen every year. As it plunges, men's performance is falling far behind hamsters and rats, let alone such macho creatures as monkeys and rabbits.
Earl Gray, a senior scientist with the US Environmental Protection Agency, said yesterday that hamsters ejaculated about 160 million sperm per millilitre of semen, about three times as much as today's men. Men and hamsters once produced roughly the same amount of sperm.
Danish research covering over 15,000 men from 20 countries has shown that average sperm counts in men have dropped from about 130 million to 66 m illion per millilitre over the past 50 years.
But there is one country where men can still hold their heads high. For reasons no-one can explain, Finnish men produce nearly twice as much sperm as the worldwide average, and men in Kuopio, in the south of the country, achieve the world record at 133 million per millilitre - almost as good as a hamster.
Sperm warning, page 17
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