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September 20, 2017

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Sperm count among male donors in Taiwan on the decline: study

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The quality and quantity of semen sampled from sperm donors in Taiwan have deteriorated in recent years, a recent study by the Center for Reproductive Medicine and Sciences (CRMS) of Taipei Medical University found.

In the study, researchers found that there has been an annual decline of sperm concentration in every cubic centimeter of semen collected from donors.

According to CRMS Director Tseng Chi-jui (曾啟瑞), a healthy male can typically produce 3 to 5 cubic centimeters (c.c.) of semen in every orgasm, with each c.c. containing 60 million sperms, or 300 million in total.

"Every year we would see a roughly one percent drop, or about 600,000 sperms, in the samples," Tseng said.

The measurements of sperm concentration and motility were made from semen samples that were provided by 7,187 male patients aged between 26 and 57 from 2001 to 2010.

Although one percent may not sound much, if the deterioration continues for another decade, male infertility can become a serious problem in Taiwan when male sperm count becomes less than 10 million per cubic centimeter of semen, he quoted the report.

Cathay General Hospital's Assisted Reproductive Unit Director Lai Tsung-hsuan (賴宗炫) said he once treated a male patient whose semen samples exhibited a low 20 percent sperm motility among the 10 million sperms sampled.

The lower the sperm mobility, the lower the chances he could have children, Lai said, adding that the normal motility should be 50 percent for all healthy male.

Lai, who also contributed to the research, said a possible cause of the declining sperm count in Taiwan was increased exposure to persistent organic pollutants in the environment, such as dioxin and plasticizers.

These organic pollutants are commonly found in poor-quality, colorful plastic products such as straws, toys and candy wrappers, as well as tainted food sources, he said.

Sperm quality could be affected by work pressure, smoking and alcohol, according to Tseng.

Lai suggested that patients adjust their lifestyles to improve sperm count by avoiding contact with pollutants and maintaining a healthy diet.

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