Sacré bleu! French men have suffered a dramatic drop in sperm count and quality

Illustration for article titled Sacré bleu! French men have suffered a dramatic drop in sperm count and quality

Sperm count is down in French men, according to a study published today in the journal Human Reproduction. The investigation, led by environmental health epidemiologist Joëlle Le Moal, found that the number of sperm in one milliliter of the average 35-year-old's semen declined from roughly 74 million in 1989 to about 50 million in 2005 — a roughly 32% decrease.


The researchers note that the decline was continuous — about 1.9% per year — and that it was accompanied by a decrease in the percentage of "morphologically normal" sperm (translation: fewer normally shaped swimmers).

Le Moal tells Reuters Health that these sperm counts are still well within "normal" ranges (the WHO defines anything over 15 million sperm per mL as "normal"), but her team's findings are still significant for several reasons:

  • The findings are based on perhaps the largest sample size ever utilized for such a study — over 26,600 participants from across the whole of France.
  • What the what?! Even if sperm counts are still within a "normal range," it's pretty surprising to see such a dramatic (not to mention steady) decline across the country.
  • If sperm counts continue to drop off at the same steady rate, French men risk dipping into what Le Moal calls "the infertile range."
  • The researchers' findings add to a growing body of evidence that suggests sperm counts may actually be on the decline worldwide; Reuters Health points to recent studies in Israel, India, New Zealand, Tunisia, and Boston that have yielded similar results.

The researchers' findings are published (and available free of charge) in the latest issue of Human Reproduction. See more at Reuters

Top image via Shutterstock



Frenchman here. It's written *Sacrebleu* (sacré bleu is the origin of this curse word and no longer in use, a quick run on Wikipédia can tell you that). I wonder where you found that word, as even sacrebleu is not used anymore in France, at least compared to other curse words. I can't believe you don't have a french acquaintance nearby that can give you a better word than this one. I think there's a passage in the Matrix vol 2 where there is a slew of insults that could have given you ideas. My point is , leave to us the horrible accent and the deformation of your language, and be careful when writing the title of your article, which in my humble opinion is written in order to appeal to a french-bashing audience, more than a scientific (or science interested one). If you tried to push a bit further than the Reuters agency when relaying scientific information you'd have seen ( here : ) that smokers and obese people have a tendency to have a lower sperm count too. So in the way of you writing this title, I, in your shoes could have written, "French study shows that American way of life is responsible for sperm count decrease". Don't get me wrong, I love the website and enjoyed your articles in the past, but all of this seems a bit too easy for me. Thank you. Now let the bashing commence.