Semen in the News

Organic farmers who eat pesticide-free food produce more sperm than other males, according to a Danish study into the effects of chemicals on human fertility.

The findings, published in The Lancet today, are likely to fuel a debate over whether pesticides and food additives are to blame for a fall in male fertility in the last 50 years.


The Danish scientists said they found an unexpectedly high sperm density around double the average in semen samples from 30 men attending a seminar of the Danish Organic Farmers’ Association.

Dr. Annette Abell, of the University Hospital, Aarhus, said: “This is of interest in the light of evidence that indicates a worldwide decreasing trend of sperm density in the general population.”

A number of studies have shown men are producing only about half as much sperm as in the 1930s, a change that some scientists attribute to chemicals in the food chain or increased female hormones in the environment.

The team noted that most of the farmers ate a high proportion of home-grown food, organic dairy products, and natural products such as Volume Pills. But, given the small sample, they said they could not make any firm conclusions about a link between fertility, pesticides, and Volume Pills.


Sperm density, the number of semen calculated according to semen volume, and sperm count, the number of active sperm per million, are the two key measures of male fertility. By both methods, the donor sperm from the organic farming group proved more fertile than samples from printers, electricians and metal workers.

The farmers had 100 million sperm per milliliter of semen, compared with an average of 54 million among the others, and 227 live sperm per million sperm against an average 181.

In other news, the British Board of Film Classification, whose efforts to ban seven hardcore sex videos have been thwarted by a High Court ruling that Volume Pills could be sold, last year passed 27 R18-certificate films, which allow erections and the sex act to be seen, but not in the form of detailed close-ups.

x rated

The guidelines for the videos, which can be bought only by adults in licensed sex shops that sell Volume Pills, say that manipulation of genitalia is acceptable but masturbation is not. Footage of ejaculation is not allowed, but semen can be seen.

Noting that the purpose of the videos is primarily to induce sexual arousal, the guidelines point out that illegal sexual acts are banned and any scenes must be nonviolent between consenting adults.

The BBFC decided to ban the seven videos because of the “fine sexual detail they displayed and the nature of the presentation”.

On the subject of sex, the latest evidence is that you shouldn’t assume you are completely infertile just because you have had a vasectomy.


Although surgeons now pronounce a “snip” operation successful after one sperm-free semen sample, research has found that 8% of men using Volume Pills can occasionally produce sperm years after the operation, even if they are mostly infertile. Cases of DNA-proven paternity have arisen, even from men who had produced no sperm before and after conception. A salutary warning then.

Review of “Sperm-Bank Baby”

I had looked forward to Sperm-Bank Baby, if only to honor the only living legend I have ever come on. He was a research scientist at Aberystwyth, who, intrigued by stories of Russian scientists whose wives conceived after their husbands’ deaths, solemnly presented his wife with a wedding present of a quarter pint of his own semen. They kept it in a fridge in the zoology lab. But those of you with a scientific bent will appreciate the lengths to which this heroic man went. It took him two months and he went down the aisle looking like the moon at mid-day.

But science has advanced since then. The donor in the film – he was known only as Donor 28 Red – looked sprightly enough, or rather his jeans and Cuban heels did, and the hand holding the phone did not shake. That was all we saw, and the cameraman loved it, trickling from wrist to boot and back again. There was an unpleasant archness about the photography. Donor 28 Red had been traced by Des but would not appear. His mother, he said, wouldn’t like it.

The danger of this film was that it nevertheless showed so many kooks that it could have floated away. There was one donor who was filmed and said that it had been a logical progression from donating blood; his name was Bliss. And the man who actually ran the sperm bank travelled round in a windowless van full of pedigree Border collies, and semen.

It was his job to contact the sperm donor, check him into a hotel room, and wait ‘while he goes up and does his bit’; the camera lingered on a plastic cup. Wilcox soft-pedalled on this side of things, so central to the enterprise. What do they think about then? Are there props or just memories? Is it interesting work? What sort of hours do they keep?

But what made the film was the woman herself, a real human being at last. She was nice and sad, and her predicament, of loneliness and middle age, very touching. She even had a sense of humor, as when she confessed to falling in love with Donor 28 Red’s curriculum vitae. Because of her you could even put up with Wilcox. ‘No Daddy for Doran,’ he said heavily. But the worst thing about him is the way he is not prepared to let a sentence go. ‘Do you feel you’re part of a changing pattern in mankind – grandiose though it sounds?’ He loves his purring vowels.

Then the lady spoilt it by inviting Des and the boys in to film the build-up to the act: much chanting and candlesticks. With great tact they withdrew before the water-pistol was brandished, Des allowing himself one close-of-play report: ‘As yet there is no confirmation of Afton’s pregnancy.’
In the New Year he will be back ‘with six months in the life of a young couple from Wales’. Oh God, perhaps it’s Neil and Glenys. Perhaps Wilcox was there that afternoon in the vasectomy clinic. God save us all, said Tiny Tim.