A Dane Abroad: What is ailing Danish men?
Kirsten Louise Pedersen
Some 40 percent of Danish men have significantly reduced sperm quality. Their collective count has sagged by more than half in the last 40 years. On a world scale, Danish men now sit at the very bottom of the ratings when it comes to reproductive health.
What on earth is going on here? Research has long shown a correlation between the mother smoking and decreased sperm quality in the male offspring. However, despite the number of babies being exposed to smoking during the gestation period being hugely reduced in recent decades, the average sperm quality of Danish males remains poor. Something else is clearly contributing significantly to these changes.
A 2018 study by Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen found that out of a sample of 6,000 males only 20 percent had optimal sperm quality. That is a shocking result, and it should be a cause of great concern as they highlight a massive issue with male reproductive health in our society that appears to be largely unaccounted for.
Rough deal for girls
Visit a fertility clinic, and it will invariably be women you see entering the doors, even though poor sperm quality is the main contributing factor in close to 50 percent of all couples seeking out fertility treatment.
At present, no treatment is available to treat infertile males, so despite a woman having great reproductive health, it is still she that must undergo the fertility intervention in 100 percent of all infertility cases.
This in itself is shocking. Despite being relatively common, fertility treatments are notoriously tough on a woman’s body. The complete lack of treatment options for infertile males is causing an awful lot of healthy women to undergo lengthy invasive hormonal treatments and surgical procedures, which could be avoided if we could figure out how to treat male infertility.
We are dealing with a large undiagnosed problem that greatly affects both men and women in this country. And on top of this, according to Professor Tina Kold Jensen from Environmental Medicine at Syddansk University, more men are being diagnosed with testicular cancer. She is adamant the cause is environmental and blames industrial chemicals in our environment, food, clothing, electronics – everywhere in fact – for disrupting hormonal balances.
Despite appearing to be a world leader when it comes to producing organic foods, the damning statistics regarding male reproductive health in Denmark tells another story, which requires us to urgently review our practices: namely farming/chemical practices.
A low priority?
According to Fleming Møller Mortensen, a member of Socialdemokratiet who is a health and prevention spokesperson, there is nothing wrong with Danish research in the field. It has been thriving, as of late, reaping rewards for its work.
However, the last government reduced research budgets significantly. “It is appalling that an area of research, where Denmark has long held a pioneering position, does not have a long-term plan for ongoing research,” despaired Mortensen in 2017.
In any case, at present, the unfortunate numbers show no sign of changing anytime soon. In a country that relies heavily on tax-paying citizens to oil the welfare wheels, and birth rates in decline for decades, it doesn’t take a scientist to work out this is a drastic situation.
Unless we figure out what is affecting our men to this degree, and create a cure that doesn’t simply push more women into unnecessary fertility treatments, we will have a serious situation on our hands in years to come, unless we prioritise this issue now.
Kirsten Louise Pedersen
Born and raised in Denmark and a resident of New Zealand for over 14 years, Kirsten has lived a pretty nomadic life since her early 20s. A physiotherapist, yoga teacher and keen home cook, she is passionate about food, good living and natural health. Follow her on Instagram @kirstenlouiseyoga.