On the downfall of French civilisation

Vive La France? Actually, the country could be in terminal decline. That is a wild and irresistible extrapolation from a study of nearly 27,000 Frenchmen which reveals that in recent years their sperm have declined markedly in quantity and quality.

According to the researchers,…

“To our knowledge, it is the first study concluding a severe and general decrease in sperm concentration and morphology at the scale of a whole country over a substantial period. This constitutes a serious public health warning. The link with the environment particularly needs to be determined.”

Before the antigallican rosbifs of Perfidious Albion start rejoicing at the thought of a final victory over their old enemy across the water, the decline in sperm quality is not peculiar to France. While there are geographical differences in human fertility, a similar study of Brits might reveal an equally worrying trend, or worse. When it comes to sexual and reproductive health, some might argue that ignorance is bliss.

The French researchers, led by environmental health epidemiologist Joëlle Le Moal, say that further investigations are required into possible causes for the decline in semen concentration and quality of sperm. But they add that other studies have pointed to environmental factors such as chemicals that disturb the body’s hormonal balance as having an adverse effect on reproductive health. These endocrine disrupters could induce intergenerational changes in the way that genes and cells behave, contributing to an overall decline in men’s fertility.

Further reading

Rolland et al., “Decline in semen concentration and morphology in a sample of 26 609 men 65 close to general population between 1989 and 2005 in France”, Human Reproduction (2012)