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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

72% decline in sperm count in African men over 50 years

By Esther Nakkazi

A press release from the African Health Sciences says sperm count for African men has declined by 72% over the past 50 years. The data is from a paper published in the African Health Sciences journal of June 2017.

“This is a threat to the procreation of the future generations,” said Dr Pallav Sengupta, the head of Physiology Unit, Faculty of Medicine, Lincoln University College, Malaysia.

“I was amazed at the magnitude of the problem. 72% decline over time is a dangerous downward trend.This situation is indeed scary,” said Uchenna I Nwagha, Professor of Obstetric Biology and Reproductive Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology/Physiology College of Medicine, University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus.

The current concentration is also very near to the World Health Organisation (WHO) cut-off value of 2010 of 15×106/ml, which is a major issue of concern.

The data is also in line with other studies of other men worldwide.

After a systematic review and meta-analysis that retrieved data following MOOSE guidelines and PRISMA checklist, they found that the major possible causes are poorly treated sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and hormonal abnormalities, consumption of excessive alcohol and tobacco smoking.

Other published articles cited exposure to pesticides and heavy metals as principal triggers of decreased sperm count among African men.

"We have put forth the evidences of the decline and discussed various causative factors over the past 50 years like lifestyle, food habits, disease prevalence and others,” said Dr Sengupta also the lead author.

“More than one factor is involved in this decreasing trend, correlation with a single factor is difficult to establish. But we are also working on their correlations for our upcoming reports,” said Dr Sengupta.

In the meta-analysis conducted, the researchers retrieved data from fourteen studies that have been conducted during 1965 and 2015 on altering sperm concentration in the African male. The studies were done in Nigeria, Tunisia, Tanzania, Libya and Egypt among males aged 19 to 55 years.

After analysis of this data, a time-dependent decline of sperm concentration (r = -0.597, p = 0.02) and an overall 72.6% decrease in mean sperm concentration was noted in the past 50 years.

In 1991, WHO estimated that almost 20-35 million couples were infertile in Africa. Nigeria was suggested to have been suffering from highest infertility problems among the other African countries, the male infertility factor accounting for 40-50%.

“In recent times, in the course of managing infertility in Nigeria, I have observed the apparent decline in sperm count in men and a decrease in ovarian reserve over time in women,” said Prof Nwagha.

Said Prof Nwagha, “Apart from life style and others, one situation in Nigeria is the effect of environmental toxins from generators. Most Nigerians rely on generator sets for electricity as public power is grossly inadequate, unreliable and epileptic, in the face of enormous urbanization and deforestation. The resultant effect of the environmental toxins from generator fumes on the germ cells over time may be a significant contributor to what we are experiencing today.”

“We, therefore, advocate for more epidemiological studies to identify the possible etiological factors to enable us to halt this dangerous trend, and to avoid natural reproductive extinction,” added Prof Nwagha

Other studies have shown a significant decrease in sperm concentration worldwide in men in North America, Europe and New Zealand. Overall studies show a 57% decline in sperm count worldwide from 1980.

Other researchers in the study included Dr. Emmanuel Izuka from the College of Medicine, University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, Nigeria and Dr. Sulagna Dutta of Lincoln University College, Malaysia.
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