Y: The Descent of Men

The Decline in Male Fertility

Y-The-Descent-of-Men
Watch @DES_Journal diaporama and health books album on Flickr. Y: The Descent of Men, by Steve Jones.

Few chemicals confer maleness, but many take it away. Which, if any, are responsible for our own troubles is hard to say.

The Pill changed men’s lives in more ways than one. It caused reproductive hormones to leak into tap water and has been blamed both for the sex changes in freshwater fish and for the drop in our own sperm count. The jury is still out on the issue, but other hormones have had a disastrous effect.

A drug called diethylstilbestrol was once thought – in error – to prevent miscarriage. Five million mothers took it and for a time it was even used as a chicken food supplement. A third of the boys exposed to the drug in the womb suffer from small testes or a reduced penis. In rats, the chemical causes prostate and testicular cancer (although there is as yet no sign of those problems in ourselves).

To give a powerful steroid to pregnant women was at best unwise, but the effects of other chemicals were harder to foresee. The 1950s saw a wonderful new chemical treatment for banana pests. Soon the substance was much used. Twenty years later the workers noticed something odd: they had almost no children. Their sperm count had dropped by five hundred times.”

Sources: Quotes About Diethylstilbestrol, goodreads.

Book Summary:

In his highly entertaining and enlightening book, the acclaimed geneticist and author Steve Jones offers a landmark exploration of maleness. With effervescent wit, Jones argues that men, biologically speaking, are the true second sex. Here he lays out the cases for and against masculinity — exploring every biological aspect from the genesis of the Y chromosome onward — based on the recent explosion of biological research. Along the way, he offers pithy commentary on topics such as male hormones, hair loss, and the hydraulics of man’s most intimate organ. Fascinating and often surprising, Jones’s evidence offers fresh fuel for the battle of the sexes.

Book reviews on GoodReads and Amazon.

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