December 7, 2012

Terrifying news from France

The sperm counts of French men fell by a whopping 32 percent over the years from 1989 to 2005. And the number of normally shaped sperm has plummeted by 33 percent! 

The French doctors argue that this is not merely worrisome news for France and the tiny French. The Frenchmen in this study are a proxy for all men everywhere, and we should all be equally worried, never mind what the Finns say about their high sperm counts. It is something in the environment, or possibly in the clothes that they are wearing. It is all very dire. 

Only 76 to 66 million sperm per mL, compared to 113 million in the past! This still sounds like a lot to me. You never see billboards on buses announcing that “THERE ARE ONLY MILLIONS OF TIGERS LEFT IN THE WILD.” But if the scientists are worried, I am worried. 

It is even worse if you are trying to Google relevant facts about this story from your work computer, I say as someone who is about to receive a number of baffled calls from HR demanding why I was hunting for “sperm underwear? sperm count tight underwear? sperm count negatively affected tight underwear? tight underwear NOT PICTURES THIS IS WORK-RELATED I SWEAR PLEASE I HAVE A FAMILY TO SUPPORT?” 

But what is going on in the French? 

I’m waiting for someone to insist that this is somehow women’s fault. We’ve spooked them, and they can’t produce under these conditions, or something.

Perhaps this is another of the stops in this “war on men” we have been hearing so much about of late. It doesn’t start in the womb. It starts before the womb. Eggs are rare and sought-after and command much higher rates in the market, and their counterparts feel disposable and unmotivated and non-motile and get bent out of shape. “Some of us contain Y chromosomes,” they murmur. “And how will we get jobs as overrated directors?” The Y-bearers and the X-bearers get into rumbles and emerge severely damaged.

Or maybe it’s socialism.

It must be something. It’s not dire yet — the diminished counts are still well above the infertility threshold, which sounds like something you try not to lift your bride over — but until we figure out what it is, I think we had better institute rationing. 

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day.