Analysis

Sperm counts continue to drastically drop in Western men

A team of international researchers studied men in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand and found that their sperm counts were dropping.

Quinn Patrick Montreal, QC
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A team of international researchers studied men in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand and found that Western men were having a decline in their sperm count. They looked at the semen samples of 42,935 men from 50 countries from 1973 to 2011. Their findings revealed that sperm concentration, as in the total number of sperm per millilitre of semen had declined each year. Over time this has amounted to a 52.4 percent total decline.

The total sperm count among the same group of continued to drop each year for a total decline of 59.3 percent over an almost 40-year period.

A male fertility startup called Legacy has raised $3.5 million from Bill Maris’s venture firm, Section 32, Y Combinator and Bain Capital Ventures. Bain Capital Ventures had previously led a seed round up worth $1.5 million last year for Legacy.

Similar to the genetic testing business 23andMe, Legacy mails a collection kit directly to the homes of its consumers. This allows them to provide a sperm sample from home and mail it back to Legacy. The sperm’s motility and morphology are tested, these tests will determine the size and shape. That information will allow Legacy to identify the highest quality sperm to freeze. In addition, Legacy sends the consumer his sperm report, with an overall assessment of their sperm health as well as some lifestyle recommendations.

Khalid Kteily is the founder of this Boston start-up and spoke with TechCrunch about the issue. “They should be worried about [their fertility],” said Kteily. “Sperm counts have gone down 50 to 60% over the last 40 years.” Kteily holds a master’s degree in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School. “The kit costs $195 up front, and if they choose to store their sperm, $145 a year. We offer different packages. You can also spend $1,995 for two deposits and 10 years of storage.”

Kteily says the sperm can be frozen indefinitely.

“If it literally just entails masturbating at home to be able to preserve your ability to have a child for the rest of your life, we think that’s something everyone is going to be doing,” Kteily said. “What we are doing really comes down to changing the way people think about fertility. We have this view that fertility is a women’s issue, but that’s just biologically wrong.”

Legacy’s long term goal is to become a research centre for male fertility although Kteily says they are a long way from that yet.

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