Pesticides decreasing quality of Western sperm

The quality of Western men's sperm cells has deteriorated fast in recent decades. The cause? Pesticides. At least that's what Gert Dohle, urologist at the Erasmus MC hospital in the Netherlands, says. He is organizing a big convention in Rotterdam today where physicians gather to find a solution to this problem.

It's not tight underpants or wifi and other microwaves that are causing the spermatozoa a headache. Not even smoking or drinking are the main causes, according to Dohle. "Our tap water contains all sorts of pesticides, that suppliers of drinking water can't filter out. These substances amass in the fat tissue of pregnant women, ending up in the fetus through the placenta. As a result, the testicles' development is hampered."

While twenty years ago the average man still had 60 million sperm cells per milliliter, now that count is just 40 million. If that trend continues, there will only be 20 million twenty years from now, and that would substantially lower the chance of natural fertilization, Dohle says. Also, diseases like testicle cancer will become more common.

Or is it plastic?
But there's also room for a nuance. All sorts of plastic products contain so-called softeners, chemical substances that can be released upon heating. In packagings of microwave meals for instance, but also in drinking bottles for babies. These substances, called BPA, have already been banned in several countries, but not (yet) in the Netherlands.

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