Over the past 15 years, male fertility has declined by a third.

This conclusion has been made by Joël Le Moal (Joëlle Le Moal,), environmental health epidemiologist from the  Institut de Veille Sanitaire in Saint-Maurice, and his colleagues, who conducted a comparative analysis of sperm of more than 26,000 French men. The study shows a steady decline in quantity of sperm and its quality from 1989 to 2005, reflecting the global nature of the phenomenon. The results were published in the journal Human Reproduction on December the 4thThe scientists noticed a significant and prolonged decline of semen concentration of 32.2% at a constant rate of 1.9% per year over 17 years, until 2005.  

The concentration of sperm (or the number of sperm cells in the semen) of 35 year-old men decreased from an average of 73.6 million sperm cells per ml in 1989 to 49.9 million sperm cells per ml in 2005.  Besides, a significant drop in the number (33.4%) of normally formed sperm was noticed in the same period.

Incidentally, one of the conclusions of the study is the fact that "... the real values of semen parameters are slightly lower than the ones that were received." In other words the scientists believe that their findings do not fully reflect the real picture of male fertility, which in fact is even worse. The authors also suggest that this trend is up-to-the-minute not only for France, but can be extrapolated to the global level. Willing to believe it, because it coincides with the position of the WHO, which has been repeatedly reducing the demands to the criteria of normal sperm in the last few decades. Among the possible factors, influencing the decline of fertility, doctors call environmental factors, as well as endocrine, hormonal or genetic disorders.

I think that even non-specialists understand that the poor quality of sperm is a major cause of male infertility. Currently, the combined role of male factor in infertility is nearly 50%. Unfortunately, according to the study, made by the French scientists, the value of male factor will only increase in course of time. And, no matter what the opponents of IVF say, today in-vitro fertilization is in fact the only real "life-line" for the solution of this problem, allowing to produce a fertilization procedure with, probably, the only healthy sperm cell (it is the method of ICSI). So it is quite possible that in the not so distant future, IVF will become a major chance for the survival of humanity as a species. To my deepest regret.