Nigeria records highest rate of male infertility as sperm counts of African men plummet

Research cited exposure to pesticides and heavy metals as principal triggers of decreased sperm count among African men.

Sperm counts of men in Africa have seen a decline over half a century now,  according to a new research published in the African Health Sciences.The research described the decline as “a threat to the procreation of the future generations.”

The research was led by Dr Pallav Sengupta, the Head of Physiology Unit, Faculty of Medicine, Lincoln University College, Malaysia said.

Among these men, there has been a 72 percent decline in sperm concentration and a decline in total sperm count over a 50-year period.

It also states that the average sperm concentration is too close to the World Health Organisation’s cut-off value for comfort.

This is, however, not an exclusive case to African men only but else too.

Co-author of the research, Uchenna Nwagha described the situation as “scary” saying,

“I was amazed at the magnitude of the problem. 72 percent decline over time is a dangerous downward trend. This situation is indeed scary.”The study also found that the possible major causes are poorly treated sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and hormonal abnormalities, consumption of excessive alcohol and tobacco smoking."We have put forth the evidence of the decline and discussed various causative factors over the past 50 years like lifestyle, food habits, disease prevalence and others. More than one factor is involved in this decreasing trend, correlation with a single factor is difficult to establish. But we are also working on their correlations for our upcoming reports,” said Dr Sengupta.The studies were carried out in Nigeria, Tunisia, Tanzania, Libya and Egypt among males aged 19 to 55.After analysis of this data, a time-dependent decline of sperm concentration (r = -0.597, p = 0.02) and an overall 72.6 per cent decrease in mean sperm concentration was noted in the past 50 years.WHO estimated that almost 20-35 million couples were infertile in Africa in 1991. Overall studies show a 57 percent decline in sperm count worldwide from 1980.It said Nigeria was suggested to have been suffering from highest infertility problems among the other African countries, the male infertility factor accounting for 40-50 per cent.“In recent times, in the course of managing infertility in Nigeria, I have observed the apparent decline in sperm count in men and a decrease in ovarian reserve over time in women.We, therefore, advocate… more epidemiological studies to identify the possible etiological factors to enable us to halt this dangerous trend, and to avoid natural reproductive extinction.” said Prof Nwagha.


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