Local News

New sperm report is drawing major Handmaid's Tale comparisons

And not because of questionable political ideologies - it's science.

By Kate Wagner
There are plenty of think pieces about how The Handmaid’s Tale is far closer to reality than a dystopian fantasy.
Since Trump’s election, women’s reproductive rights have rapidly gone by the wayside as the president allowed states to defund Planned Parenthood, slashed maternity coverage and forbade foreign NGOs that get U.S funds from even mentioning abortion.
In Australia, Tony Abbott has long been at the helm of pursuing his own anti-abortion beliefs in office.
The former PM has gone from labelling abortion as “the easy way out”, saying “the problem with the contemporary Australian practice of abortion is that an objectively grave matter has been reduced to a question of the mother’s convenience” to saying, “I won’t be rushing out to get my daughters vaccinated [for cervical cancer], maybe that’s because I’m a cruel, callow, callous, heartless bastard but, look, I won’t be.”
But a new report has brought The Handmaid’s Tale seem even more likely as a reality, but this time it’s not political ideologies – it’s science.
The sperm counts in men have more than halved over the last 40 years, and scientists aren’t sure why.
The findings state between 1973 and 2011, the concentration of sperm of men in western countries has dropped 1.4% a year, which adds up to a staggering 52%.
Some experts have suggested the drop is in an indication men are in worse health generally and the authors of the study say they used participants that were not known to have infertility problems or disease.
The study involved almost 43,000 men and the data was divided on whether the men were from western countries – including Australia – or from elsewhere.
After allowing for variables like age and how long men had gone without ejaculation, the researchers found sperm concentration dropped from 99 million per ml in 1973 to 47.1 million per ml in 2011 – all amongst men unaware of their fertility.
Although most praise the study, with many saying it’s the best they’ve seen on the trend, there is still speculation as to whether the decline is real.
“You need to go out to answer that question. For example you take a random sample of every 18-year-old in the UK and you test 10,000 18-year-olds every year prospectively over the course of 20-25 years,” Professor Allen Pacey told The Guardian.
But he also agreed there was cause for concern, with the rise of testicular cancer and higher average age of couples trying for children.
So men, it might be time to get checked out.