Male fertility is facing a steady downfall. Unlike women, who are born with a finite number of eggs, men are continually producing sperm. According to the Male Fertility Study, compiled by Norwich Union Healthcare, nearly one in 10 men may be suffering from infertility.
Some of the factors that may have an effect on male fertility are traffic pollution, laptops, mobile phones, tight pants and hot tubs, nappies, smoking, overeating, seafood, fast food and driving.
Blaming pollution as one of the causes of male infertility, scientists believe that nitrogen oxide and lead in exhaust fumes may be the culprits.
Scrotal hyperthermia has been identified as another risk factor for male infertility according to a study published in the February issue of the journal Human Reproduction. Scientists from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook New York found that laptops can reach internal operating temperatures of over 70º C, and as they are frequently placed close to the scrotum, may be the cause of infertility.
Scientist also discourage the use of tight pants and hot tubs as they can lead to overheating sperm-producing cells in testicles, which lowers sperm count.
And for the same reason, the plastic lining in disposable nappies may increase the temperature of the scrotum, reducing their sperm counts as adults.
Another study by French researchers found that even driving for two hours could raise testicle temperature by around 2º C, causing reduced fertility levels. Taking hourly breaks from the wheel for 10 minutes can minimize the damage.
A study from the University of Szeged in Hungary claimed mobile phones could lower sperm counts by up to a third because of the radiation they emit. Also, the ability of the sperm to swim properly was also found to be impaired, particularly among men who made long calls.
Smoking tobacco has been known earlier to reduce sperm count, impair sperm movement. The good news is that if you quit, the health of your sperm will start to improve within two months. Researchers at Queen's University, Belfast, have discovered that THC - the active ingredient in cannabis - impedes sperm motility and impairs its ability to penetrate the egg for fertilization. Dr Sheena Lewis, from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, who leads the Reproductive Medicine Research Group, said recent reports carried out on sea urchin sperm suggest that cannabis may be a major cause of infertility by inhibiting sperm functions necessary for fertilization.
Scientists from Atlanta have found that the quality of sperm starts to deteriorate as soon as men pass a healthy weight for their size. This is because excess body fat creates localized heat in the groin area that can damage the sperm. In addition, fat is linked with oestrogen - the female sex hormone - and more fat means more oestrogens, which can lead to a possible increase in the risk of interference with the proper development of male reproductive organs.
Fast food, which is often packed full of 'hidden soy', may be another culprit. Scientists believe chemicals in the Soya bean mimic oestrogen, which can be the cause of a host of fertility problems.
With an exhaustive list of factors reducing male fertility, men certainly need to be aware of them, and be careful of their lifestyle, including what they eat and what they wear.