It is often assumed that one of the main reasons that couples struggle to conceive is due to issues with female fertility.
However, infertility is a major problem for both genders. Nevertheless, it seems that male infertility may be a bigger factor than originally believed. And it is on the rise.
Male infertility is known to be growing with as many as one in five 18 – 25 year old men possessing a low sperm count. Moreover, the sperm that is produced is of low quality. This problem could be put down to either structural or functional issues.
The question is: what is causing this rise?
According to researchers, there isn’t one reason in particular.
Scientists have suggested a variety of possible causes, from wearing tight underwear to exposure to chemicals found in the environment.
In fact, researchers believe that chemicals found in products such as soap, toothpaste and plastic toys could affect male fertility.
However, scientists, while at a loss to explain the reasons for this continual rise, are confident that the actual infertility problem relates to the agility of the sperm to fertilise or penetrate the female egg.
This conclusion comes from a study of 100 industrial chemicals. One-third of these were found to affect a particular protein that is vital for sperm function.
It is has also been found that one particular chemical found in many household plastic products, namely bisphenol-A, did not affect sperm.
That said, one of the lead researchers, Dr. Timo Strünker, suggested that just because bisphenol-A did not directly affect the functionality of sperm, doesn’t meant it won’t affect other steps involved in fertilisation.
Although the major cause of male infertility may never really be known, this particular research will help decision makers to come to a conclusion.
Scientists have developed a test to determine which chemicals directly affect sperm count.