Global sperm count is down, but new businesses are being born in hope of bringing the world babies
Here's a slightly concerning fact: Most men today could have half the sperm their grandfather had at their age. The largest-ever study of sperm counts—analyzing 185 previous studies of 42,935 men from 1973 to 2011—found that overall counts have declined by 59% and that average concentration has fallen by half, from around 99 million sperm per milliliter to 47 million.
Anything below 15 million is regarded as an impediment to reproduction, so if this trend continues for another 50 years or so, well ... yeah, you get the drift. Which is why “Spermpocalypse” headlines have been proliferating for the past few years. And the World Health Organization has confirmed that while women take the brunt of the blame for infertility, men contribute an equal 50% of total cases. The Conversation points to studies that show environmental contaminants playing a large part in declining fertility worldwide.
But whatever the reason, the start-ups are here to help. Intelligencer points to a slew of at-home sperm-testing kits that have hit the market recently. From Legacy and Fellow, to Path Fertility and Dadi, which was just acquired by men's-wellness unicorn Roman (now called Ro). They aim to make it easier (and less embarrassing) to get your little soldiers counted and even stored for future family planning.
And they're not the only ones. An even more ambitious start-up in California called Conception is working on lab-grown human eggs from a certain type of stem cell. The experimental technology could help women who aren't able to produce healthy eggs (due to factors like cancer or age) and allow same-sex couples to have biological children since eggs could be made from any human stem cell. All for a price, of course.
Then there's the team of researchers who said last month that they created the world's first synthetic human embryo-like structures (again from stem cells), bypassing the need for eggs and sperm all together. So far, the work is aimed at helping researchers study the causes of early miscarriages and understand how organs develop, but surely some company will want to capitalize on a literal baby-making machine, right?
Fertility experts advise those looking to boost sperm count to wear loose-fitting boxers during the day and nothing at night.
Manage Your Stress
Want to keep your count number up? Stress has been shown to interfere with the hormones needed to produce sperm.