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‘Alarming’ sperm quality decrease measured in Nigeria and South Africa study

* Comprehensive analysis of metrics in 17,000 men follows global concerns over infertility

Photo: Computer illustration of a sperm cellCredit: KATERYNA KON/ SPL /GETTY IMAGES

A SIGNIFICANT decline in metrics used to measure semen quality in Nigeria and South Africa has been reported by researchers, adding to a global trend which is contributing to the rise in male infertility. It was the first study of semen quality over time to be undertaken in Sub‑Saharan Africa.

In the retrospective study, researchers from the two countries analysed the sperm of more than 17,000 men attending fertility hospitals in Nigeria and South Africa in 2010, 2015 and 2019. The team assessed ejaculate volume, sperm concentration, progressive motility, total progressively motile sperm count (TPMSC), total sperm count, and normal sperm morphology or structure. Progressive motility refers to sperm that swim forward in largely straight lines or large circles.

“Our findings provide a quantitative evidence of an alarming decreasing trend in semen parameters in Nigeria and South Africa from 2010 to 2019,” write the team, led by Edidiong Akang of the Department of Anatomy at the University of Lagos in Nigeria, and Ralf Henkel, formerly of the University of the Western Cape, South Africa, and now a chief scientific advisor to LogixX Pharma in the United Kingdom. The researchers reported a fall in progressive motility, TPMSC and sperm morphology across both countries.

Based on their study, they concluded that reduced sperm motility or movement (asthenozoospermia) and high counts of abnormally shaped sperm (teratozoospermia) are the leading causes of male infertility in the region.


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