Male infertility on the rise

MALE INFERTILITY is continuing to rise in Portugal, with today’s modern life being the main culprit.

According to scientists, the quality of male sperm is declining due to various factors, including air and environmental pollution, pesticides and chemicals entering the food chain, stress and an increase in sexually transmitted diseases. Other factors cited include smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol.

“This is a situation that affects men as well as women and can be affected by the kind of work one does. For example, factory workers dealing with metal, glass and plastic production are worst affected,” said João Carvalho, president of the Portuguese Society for Reproductive Medicine.

In Portugal alone, there are an estimated 10-15,000 cases of infertility registered a year, although the figure could actually be much higher. According to João Carvalho, the problem affects around half a million people in the entire country (15 per cent of the population).

“In the past 50 years, infertility rates have risen by 20 per cent in men mainly due to a reduction in the potency of sperm,” confirmed Mário de Sousa, specialist in Reproductive Medicine at Porto University.

Bill Ledger, researcher at the University of Sheffield in the UK, adds that infertility has increased across Europe as a whole, with one in every seven adults suffering from problems that could double over the next few years.

Another concern is that, nowadays, both men and women are marrying and having children much later, leaving it until their late twenties to mid thirties in many cases, when the human body is most fertile between the ages of 17 and 24. C.G.