Significant and Strong Decline in Sperm Concentration and Morphology in the Whole of France

Semen quality trends in French regions are consistent with a global change in environmental exposure

Abstract

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Significant and strong decline in sperm concentration and morphology in the whole of France between 1989 and 2005, consistent with a global change in environmental exposure, especially according to the endocrine disruptor hypothesis.

A retrospective study carried on a large sample of men close to the general population recently showed a significant and strong decline in sperm concentration and morphology in the whole of France between 1989 and 2005. We studied these trends within each French region.Data were provided from the Fivnat database.

The study sample was constituted by male partners of sterile women whose both tubes were absent or blocked. They were located by assisted reproductive technologies (ART) center.A Bayesian spatio-temporal model with parametric time trends, adjusted for age, was used to model overall time trends for each region.

The results show that sperm concentration decreased in almost all French regions. Aquitaine showed the strongest decrease and Midi-Pyrénées had the lowest average for the whole period.For total motility most regions slightly increased while Bourgogne showed a steep and significant decrease.For normal morphology, most regions decreased. Aquitaine and Midi-Pyrénées showed a stronger decrease than the overall trend.

In conclusion, the decrease in sperm concentration and morphology, already shown at the scale of the French metropolitan territory, was observed in most French regions. This is consistent with a global change in environmental exposure, especially according to the endocrine disruptor hypothesis. Indeed ubiquitary exposure to these chemicals has been growing in the French general population since the fifties and the results don’t seem to support the lifestyle hypothesis. The strongest decreases and lowest values are consistently observed in two proximate regions both highly agricultural and densely populated.

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