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06th Jul 2023

Irish professor reveals four everyday things that are affecting men’s fertility


An Irish professor has spoken out about four everyday things that are causing issues with men’s fertility.

From plastic particles to general pollution, there are numerous things that are having a negative effect of men’s sperm count.

Professor Luke O’Neill went as far as to say: “If this keeps going in the direction it’s headed, our species is actually under threat”.

The Professor of Biochemistry at Trinity College spoke to The Pat Kenny Show and said sperm counts have dropped from around 113 million per mil to 66 million per mil between the years 1938 and 2000.

He explained: “You need a certain count per mil if it’s going to fertilise an egg. Even more importantly, the quality of the sperm is declining as well.

“If this keeps going in the direction it’s headed, our species is actually under threat”.

Prof O’Neill said pollutants are a big issue across the globe: “There’s several things: first and foremost, pollution.

“There’s good evidence now that it’s things like insecticides in the environment, pesticides.

“Plastics release a thing called phthalates; there’s evidence that that can damage your sperm.

“Phthalates are little chemicals that leach off plastics and they can be especially worrisome. As you know, there’s plastic everywhere… it can waft in the breeze”.

He went on to say that DNA in the sperm is also beginning to break down: “Traffic cops, who were exposed to pollution all through the day, their sperm is being damaged.

“There’s two things going on: one is the count goes down, secondly the DNA in the sperm is fragmenting – and that’s a bad thing.

“They’re measuring that as a really good measure of the quality. If that goes above 25% breaking of the DNA, that sperm wouldn’t fertilise the egg.”

He then explained that there is now evidence showing a link between obesity and a dropping sperm count.

“That puts the sperm under pressure as well – there’s evidence of a link to obesity as being a damaging thing.

“Smoking was always a risk and that was known for a long time.”