What's so bad about Spanish sperm?

This is one of those studies that may mean absolutely nothing. Still, we all want to know about the state of Spanish sperm, and at last a group of researchers has done a longitudinal study to provide an answer. According to a release, the "semen of Spanish men is losing quality," at least in Murcia:

The journal Andrology has published a multidisciplinary and international study, headed by the Department of Preventative Medicine and Public Health of the University of Murcia (UMU), which demonstrates that "total sperm count and concentration has declined amongst young men in the south-east of Spain in the last decade." More specifically, the decrease amounts to 38%.

The lead researcher, Alberto Torres Cantero, explained that the study involved "comparing the results obtained by the Medical Research Centre of the University of Granada from the semen of 273 men from Almeria between 18 and 23 years, collected between 2001 and 2002, with those samples collected ten years later by 215 undergraduates from Murcia, all the while ensuring that both sample groups had the same age range and similar characteristics."

The analysis shows that the number of spermatozoids is significantly lower in the subjects from Murcia compared to the participants from Almeria. Average concentration goes from 72 million spermatozoids per millilitre in 2011 to 52 million/ml in 2011, according to Torres Cantero, professor of Preventative Medicine and Public Health at UMU.

Another relevant result is that "40% of those university students analysed in Murcia suffered from alterations in at least one semen parameter (morphology, mobility).

So we don't really know much here, other than that samples of sperm from two different regions show a marked decline over a period of ten years. Is this a problem with undergrads at Murcia? The first hint at a Malthusian population check we never knew about? Some kind of weird sampling bias? At this point, we'll need a lot more research and testing before we can come up with anything resembling a good answer. In the meantime, it's the perfect beginning for the next dystopian conspiracy story about humanity's demise.

Read the full scientific paper via PubMed

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