Semen quality of young men in southeast Spain down by 38% in the last decade

A concentration of lower than 40 million/ml makes it more difficult to conceive. Credit: SINC

The first comparative study on the evolution of sperm quality in young Spanish men over ten years, headed by researchers at the University of Murcia, reveals that spermatozoid concentration in men between 18 and 23 years in the regions of Murcia and Almeria has dropped by an annual average of 2%.

The suspicion that the semen of Spanish men is losing quality now takes force in the case of from Murcia and Almeria.

The Andrology journal has published a multidisciplinary and international study, headed by the Department of and Public Health of the University of Murcia (UMU), which demonstrates that "total and concentration has declined amongst young men in the south-east of Spain in the last decade." More specifically, the decrease amounts to 38%.

The lead researcher, Alberto Torres Cantero, explains to SINC that the study involved "comparing the results obtained by the Medical Research Centre of the University of Granada from the semen of 273 men from Almeria between 18 and 23 years, collected between 2001 and 2002, with those samples collected ten years later by 215 undergraduates from Murcia, all the while ensuring that both sample groups had the same age range and similar characteristics."

The analysis shows that the number of spermatozoids is significantly lower in the subjects from Murcia compared to the participants from Almeria. Average concentration goes from 72 million spermatozoids per millilitre in 2011 to 52 million/ml in 2011, according to Torres Cantero, professor of Preventative Medicine and Public Health at UMU.

Another relevant result is that "40% of those analysed in Murcia suffered from alterations in at least one semen parameter (, mobility). Furthermore, all sperm indicators are below the norm in 15% of the sample," states Jaime Mendiola, professor at the UMU and first signatory of the study.

Clinic trails are needed

"Before there were no well performed studies to detect a change in sperm quality in Spain," explains Torres. Its main limitation is that it only makes reference to one geographic area and cannot be extrapolated: "We do not know if the same has occurred in other parts of Spain," outlines the researcher. There is little likelihood that the study will be carried out in other regions "because there are no similar studies in the young and healthy population."

Nonetheless, the fact that semen has worsened does not necessarily mean that the number of infertile men has increased. As Torres clarifies, this study measures quality and not fertility, "for which specific criteria established by the WHO are used."

Despite this, Mendiola feels that these data are worrying because "it has been verified in recognised studies that a concentration lower than 40 million/ml makes conception more difficult. If the rate of loss we have outlines continues, with an average decline in quality of 2% per year, the sperm of young men could reach this danger level of 40 million/ml in a very short space of time."

For this reason, the authors stress the urgency to promote "clinical trails that identify effective prevention actions for counteracting this negative trend via lifestyle changes."

"We believe that some prevention actions involving lifestyle improvements, such as a healthier diet, could increase sperm quality," outlines Alberto Torres. "But we still lack rigorous scientific information to propose them neither in the clinical field nor at a population level. If we could identify those actions, we could improve ."

More information: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.2047-2927.2012.00058.x/abstract

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Better nutrition makes for better sperm

Oct 18, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- A pair of studies presented today at the 67th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) show a link between dietary patterns and semen parameters in men: in short, better ...

Semen quality depends upon antioxidants

Jun 02, 2009

A possible relationship between men's diets and the quality of their semen has long been a discussion point. Spanish researchers have now confirmed that antioxidants, molecules which are found mainly in fruit and vegetables ...

Fatty diets may be associated with reduced semen quality

Mar 13, 2012

Men's diets, in particular the amount and type of different fats they eat, could be associated with their semen quality according to the results of a study published online in Europe's leading reproductive medicine journal ...

Men who do exercise produce better quality semen

Oct 31, 2012

A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Cordoba links moderate physical activity in males with better hormone levels and sperm characteristics that favour reproduction compared to sedentary ...

Recommended for you

Suddenly health insurance is not for sale

Apr 18, 2014

(HealthDay)— Darlene Tucker, an independent insurance broker in Scotts Hill, Tenn., says health insurers in her area aren't selling policies year-round anymore.

Study: Half of jailed NYC youths have brain injury (Update)

Apr 18, 2014

About half of all 16- to 18-year-olds coming into New York City's jails say they had a traumatic brain injury before being incarcerated, most caused by assaults, according to a new study that's the latest in a growing body ...

Autonomy and relationships among 'good life' goals

Apr 18, 2014

Young adults with Down syndrome have a strong desire to be self-sufficient by living independently and having a job, according to a study into the meaning of wellbeing among young people affected by the disorder.

User comments