Declining sperm theory out for the count

Claims that men are suffering from a mysterious decline in their sperm counts that could eventually imperil the future of the human race are being dramatically challenged by scientists in the United States.

Three new studies into male fertility suggest that sperm counts among American men, at least, have actually increased slightly in the last twenty years. There is also intriguing evidence that residents of New York City consistently demonstrate far higher sperm counts than men in other US cities.

While the revelation hands welcome machismo rights to all Big Apple males, it is also the basis for another important conclusion; that previous studies suggesting falling sperm counts were grievously flawed because they failed to take such geographical variations into account.

A Danish scientist first alerted the world to the possibility of declining sperm counts in 1992, showing that sperm counts among 15,000 men in 20 countries had dropped by almost half in 50 years. Two subsequent studies, in Belgium and France, drew similar conclusions, and raised concern over the quality of sperm.

The new findings, which are certain to provoke furious debate in the medical fraternity, are detailed in three reports in this month's issue of the US journal, Fertility and Sterility.

One study analysed the semen of 1,283 men who made deposits to sperm banks in three cities - Los Angeles, New York and Roseville, Minnesota - from 1970 to 1994. Its author, Dr Harry Fisch of the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York, found a "slight but significant increase".

There may be no explaining - scientifically anyway - the elevated sperm counts of New York men, who boast 131.4 million sperm per millilitre of semen. That is more than 50 per cent higher than the measly 72.7 million registered by men living in Los Angeles.

Much more important, says Dr Fisch, is to understand the main bodies of research that have suggested worldwide declines in sperm counts were misleading because they compared new data gathered in Europe and the Third World with earlier results from New York, where the counts have always been high. "Take New York out of those studies, and there is no decline," he said yesterday.

Non-scientific speculation about sperm-heavy New Yorkers is already under way. Among the theories: LA guys spend too much time in hot tubs (not good for the testicles), tight shorts (likewise) and in fitness gyms. Or there is the supply-and-demand angle: New Yorkers have more sex than men anywhere else.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Martin of Coldplay performs live for fans at Enmore Theatre on June 19, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
music
Sport
Dave Mackay lifts the FA Cup in 1967 having skippered Spurs to victory
football
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
Arts and Entertainment
As depicted in Disney's Robin Hood, King John was cowardly, cruel, avaricious and incompetent
film
Life and Style
Travis Kalanick, the co-founder of Uber, is now worth $5.3bn
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Media Sales Executives - B2B

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Genius Ltd continue...

Recruitment Genius: Media Sales Executives - B2B

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Genius Ltd continue...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you have the right attitude,...

Ashdown Group: Client Services Executive - Enfield, North London

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Client Services Executive - Enfield, North London ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn