A study conducted in Denmark found that the sperm count of men who are conceived by fertility treatments is up to 50 percent lower than normal.
Published in March 1 by the American Journal of Epidemiology (AJE), the study was entitled, "The Fertility Treatment and Reproductive Health of Male Offspring: A Study of 1,925 Young Men from the General Population." The AJE explains that all 1,925 Danish participants were undergoing compulsory medical testing at the time for army fitness requirements. The volunteers were required to give both a semen sample and a blood sample and then answer a questionnaire.
At the same time, their mothers were asked whether they had received fertility treatment, and 47 responded in the affirmative. The AJE reports that men whose mothers had received fertility treatments had a "46% lower sperm concentration" and a "45% lower total sperm count". They had fewer "motile sperm," and a higher level of deformed sperm. Their testis size was also smaller on average by 0.9 millimeters.
The study involved many possible confounding factors, especially the possibility that these men had inherited an infertility problem. Nevertheless, the New York Times reports that the differences between men whose mothers had received fertility treatment and those who had not were significant. In fact, it was more marked that the difference between men whose parents had smoked versus those whose parents remained smoke-free.
One drawback in the study was that although the mothers claimed to have received hormonal fertility treatment, the type of treatment remained uncertain.
For this reason, the Times reports, Dr. Tina Kold Jensen, one of the report's lead authors and a professor at the University of Southern Denmark commented, "At this point we don't know what fertility treatment the mothers of these men received, and we are not prepared to make any recommendations."
The AJE review concludes, "These findings should be viewed in light of the increasing use of fertility treatments. Although the cause of these findings is unknown, they raise concern about possible late effects of fertility treatment."
According to the World Health Organization, male sperm count should not drop beneath 20 million sperm per milliliter, reports the News.com.au. In the Danish study, the normal median sperm concentration was 48 million per millilitre whereas sons of fertility treatment mothers had only 33 million. In total, 30% of the first group was below 20 million, whereas only 20% of the second group was below this number. Overall, the sperm count of males conceived through fertility treament was 46% lower.
These findings are consistent with other reports on fertility treatment. A US study, for example, revealed that storing embryos cause serious genetic defects. The largest Canadian study of its kind also discovered that fertility-treatment children have a 58% higher risk of being born with birth defects. These defects include problems in the digestive tract, bones and heart. Another study in 2005 revealed that twins who are conceived through in-vitro fertilization (IVF) are 50 percent more likely to be born prematurely than through natural conception.
Women also frequently endure significant side effects from the hormonal infertility treatments. One 33-year-old woman, quoted in The Daily Mail, described them, saying, "the drugs give me banging headaches, hot flushes and temper tantrums," she said. "If they make me feel like this, what are they doing to my eggs?"
The Study in The American Journal of Epidemiology :
See related coverage:
IVF Babies up to 40% More Likely to Suffer Severe Birth Defects
Higher Rate of Birth Defects in Babies Conceived Through Fertility Treatment
[19June07, Elizabeth O'Brien, Denmark, LifeSiteNews.com]