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An Egg and Sperm Crisis

This is an interesting story  recently published by some local media.  The subject is one we had long known is a concern, that sperm counts over the last 30 years have been declining tremendously.  The World Health Organization (WHO) does periodic studies that sets the standard for what is “normal” and the “normal range” for sperm factors such as count, motility, percentage of progressive motility, volume of the ejaculate, etc. 

For decades, as noted, we have been seeing a decline in the male factor.  Studies have been done all over the world and the same phenomenon is repeated in every country studied.

The thought is exposure to environmental toxins (there are many of these found in plastics such as BPA, etc) is one leading theory for why sperm counts, and sperm quality have been declining over the last 30 years.

But the decline in fertility potential is not simply related to the male factor.  In my observations, having been in the practice of fertility for about 30 years, I have also clearly seen a decline in egg factors.  Egg counts have been going down progressively in synchrony with the above-noted sperm problems.  While not studied, it certainly is possible that the same factors at play affecting testicular function of the population are also at play affecting ovarian function; thus, explaining the obvious and truly observed decline in egg and sperm factors that I have seen.

The good news is one can be proactive and can periodically evaluate their fertility potential.  Semen analysis testing can be done to look at both quantitative and qualitative factors.  At MCRM Fertility we have been doing this for many years, looking specifically at these issues; especially, qualitative factors like DNA fragmentation which are equally important as checking quantitative factors.  Regarding female factor, initial simple evaluation can be completed by doing a blood test called the AMH, which I have been espousing for years that all women should be tested even at a young age in the mid to upper 20s.  One must assess her ovarian reserve and ovarian function and discuss what the results mean for their fertility future.  It is not hard! 

Looking at egg and sperm factors is critical because in this day and age we have ways of working with these issues, but early diagnosis is critical and simply not hard. 

If you would like to complete a simple fertility evaluation or discuss your fertility potential further, please contact one of our offices to arrange for an initial appointment.

Peter Ahlering, M.D.

Medical Director