What is happening to human fertility?
Article Type: Brief article
Subject: Infertility, Male (Genetic aspects)
Infertility, Male (Environmental aspects)
Infertility, Male (Risk factors)
Pub Date: 05/01/2010
Publication: Name: Reproductive Health Matters Publisher: Reproductive Health Matters Audience: General Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Family and marriage; Health; Women's issues/gender studies Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 Reproductive Health Matters ISSN: 0968-8080
Issue: Date: May, 2010 Source Volume: 18 Source Issue: 35
Accession Number: 236247757
Full Text: Semen quality appears to have declined in recent decades in some populations, e.g. northwestern Europe, for unknown reasons. At the same time, couple fertility may have increased. Hypotheses are suggested for this apparent inconsistency. Alongside the deterioration of spermatogenesis there is evidence of an increase in other related problems, notably testicular cancer, which started rising sharply a century ago. This and other evidence indicates an environmental origin, but there is also a genetic component. The relationship between genetics and environment is discussed in the context of the puzzle that infertility is inherited, which appears to be impossible from an evolutionary standpoint. In addition, the human tendencies to inferior semen quality, lower fertility, higher rates of aneuploidy and of early pregnancy loss compared with other mammals may be linked, and this appears to involve both male- and female-mediated pathways. The evidence indicates that the currently most popular explanation for male reproductive system impairment--the endocrine disruption hypothesis--cannot explain the main features of the descriptive epidemiology. The pathogenesis involved remains obscure but could involve an intergenerational process of environmental origin that induces genetic damage in germ cells. (1)

(1.) Joffe M. What has happened to human fertility? Human Reproduction 2010;25(2):295-307.
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