Men from Switzerland are among those with the lowest sperm counts in Europe, according to new findings.
Researchers from University of Geneva tested sperm samples from 2,532 Swiss men aged between 18 and 22.
Some 60 per cent of men surveyed had a problem with their sperm – which could have an impact on fertility or be a risk factor for testicular cancer.
Problems included motility issues, low sperm count or abnormal cells.
The median sperm count for men in the group was 47 million sperm per ml of semen.
To put this in perspective, the range of average median sperm counts for men across Europe is between 41m and 67m.
The research compared Switzerland with historic sperm count data taken from earlier studies in other countries.
In the comparison, Switzerland came almost bottom for sperm count – with just Germany, Norway, and Denmark (in last place) coming in with lower sperm counts.
Spain, meanwhile, was highest with a median sperm count of 62 million.
Professor Serge Nef, who led the study, said a low sperm count could have a “significant” effect on fertility.
“It's important to understand that the time needed to conceive increases significantly if a man has a sperm concentration below 40 million sperm per ml,” he said.
Dr Alfred Senn, who co-authored the study, added: “[Sperm count] isn't entirely predictive of a person's fertility.
“But, in overall terms, the results suggest that the sperm quality of young men in Switzerland is in a critical state and that their future fertility will in all likelihood be affected.”
A comparison of sperm counts in Europe*
Denmark 41million sperm per ml (2002)
Norway 41m per ml (2002)
Germany 44m per ml (2008)
Switzerland 47m per ml (2019)
Finland 48m per ml (2006)
Lithuania 55m per ml (2002)
Estonia 57m per ml (2002)
Spain 62m per ml (2012)
*Based on comparing historic data with the new Swiss study.
Sperm counts ‘halved’ in Western countries
This is part of a wider issue of declining sperm counts across Western countries.
There has been an estimated 50-60% drop in sperm count in developed nations since 1973, according to research published in 2017.
While the prevailing reason for this drop in sperm counts is unclear, researchers have suggested it is down to a mixture of chemical and pesticide exposure to modern lifestyles.
However, more research is required before this is fully understood.