Researchers Warn of Rapid Decline in Quality of Israeli Sperm

According to research at the Hadassah University Hospital-Mt. Scopus, continued decline could lead to the cessation of sperm-donation programs.

A recent study at Jerusalem's Hadassah University Hospital, Mt. Scopus has confirmed the findings of previous research indicating a sharp decline in the quality of semen provided by Israeli sperm donors.

Researchers analyzed 2,182 semen samples that were provided on a weekly basis by 58 healthy, fertile, university-educated, paid donors aged 20 to 37 between 1995 and 2009 for motility and for total sperm count.

Despite the lowering in 2004 of criteria for sperm donations, 38 percent of the applicants for sperm donation were rejected on the basis of semen quality in 2009, compared to a third of applicants 10 to 15 years ago. Under the previous, stricter criteria, 88 percent of the prospective donors would be rejected today.

Over the period of the study sperm parameters declined 36 percent, from an average of 106 million sperm/ml of ejaculate in 1995 to 68 million/ml in 2009. Motility declined from 79 percent to 66 percent over the study period.

Under the less stringent criteria, only 18 percent of the most recent donors had acceptable sperm quality.

The study was carried out by a research team led by Dr. Ronit Haimov-Kochman of Hadassah's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and appears in the June 2012 issue of the Israel Medical Association Journal.

"The rapid deterioration of sperm quality among fertile semen donors is alarming and may lead to cessation of sperm donation programs," the researchers concluded.