Tue, May 21, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Male infertility causing childless couples: group

By Liao Hsueh-ju and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The increasing number of childless couples in Taiwan might not be a matter of choice, but could instead stem from male infertility, the Taiwan IVF Group has said.

Female infertility has long been in the spotlight, but little consideration has been given to the worsening issue of unhealthy sperm, group chief physician Lu Farn (盧凡) said.

Sperm quality is on the decline worldwide and only 4 percent of Taiwanese men have “healthy” sperm, Lu said, without citing sources.

Couples not being able to conceive due to male infertility has risen from 30 percent to 45 percent, surpassing female infertility’s 40 percent, he said, citing statistics.

The decline in sperm quality might stem from harmful materials in the environment, such as food packaging, industrial waste and pollution, Lu said, adding that pressure at work and a bad working environment can also contribute.

The recurring food safety problems in Taiwan, such as plasticizers in food or unhealthy food products, might be a cause, Lu added.

Another cause of lower quality could be infection, he said, referring to an unconfirmed hypothesis that reactive oxygen species in cells can damage genetic material and “weaken” sperm.

Lu also cited studies showing that tight clothing — such as spandex suits worn by runners and competitive cyclists — could contribute to the decline in quality.

Studies have shown that cyclists are not necessarily at a higher risk of infertility, but bicycle seats can give riders numbness in the groin area, he said.

Men planning to have children should not to take frequent dips in hot springs because sperm cannot survive at high temperatures, Lu said, adding that they should not stay in hot water for more than three to five minutes at a time.

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