Professor of Anatomy/Consultant Reproductive Endocrinologist
email@example.com 0700 MARTCENTER
In humans, women go through a period of 14 days when the follicle in the ovary develops. It starts from the day one of the menstruation until the egg is sufficiently mature and ready for ovulation. On the 14th day of the period, the egg is released at ovulation and fertilised within 48 hours. If intercourse occurs at the right time, then the embryo grows and implants in the uterus or womb. If intercourse occurs at another time other than the ovulating period, it is doubtful that the woman will get pregnant in that cycle /month.
Animals go through an “estrus” cycle or “heat.” Humans go through a menstrual cycle. Apart from other hormonal variations, one significant difference between humans and animals is that the female sex hormone, estrogen, which increases just before ovulation in animals, is the trigger factor for their sex drive. This hormone is responsible for producing eggs. In other words, animals do not desire to have sex unless there is an egg to be fertilised in the female’s womb.
In humans, sex desire is much more complicated and is not driven by the female sex hormone estrogen, but by the male sex hormone testosterone. It is unique in the animal kingdom, and it is primarily a human phenomenon. The small amount of testosterone that the female makes is enough to generate a sexual drive in her. It is only a few females that recognise the slight increase in testosterone around the ovulation period to enable them to deliberately initiate sex at the appropriate time to get pregnant.
From sociological studies, the fact that humans make love facing each other indicates communication of direct sexual interest and development of love, permanent mating, and a family system. On the contrary, throughout the animal kingdom, the female squats in her position of ‘heat’ and the male mounts on top of her, facing her rear end. The animals never get to look at each other and do not need to know each other or get emotionally involved for intercourse to take place. In other words, in animals, sex is not emotional but procreational.
For humans, having sex is about expressing emotions and not just to have babies. It makes us less reproductively efficient, which makes infertility familiar in humans because the human reproductive system was never that efficient.
The reproductive system of the human male is also highly inefficient. Most male animals produce 25 million sperms per day per gram of testicular tissue. Humans produce only 4 million sperms. Only the gorilla, the cheetah and the goose produce less sperm per gram and testicular tissue than humans.
To illustrate the importance of sperm per gram of testicular tissue, the average bull ejaculates about 10 billion sperms whereas the average fertile man ejaculation will contain between one and five million sperms. It means that the average cow in a single ejaculation produces 30 to 100 times more than that of the average man. The bull’s sperm will also move three times the speed of the human sperm, in a perfectly straight line, with virtually no abnormal, weak or deformed sperms. A man whose ejaculation has 60 per cent of the sperm moving is lucky. Studies on sperm population find that up to 40 per cent of a man’s sperm are abnormal.
The pig, as an example, also really shows superior fertility. The pig ejaculates an entire pint of sperm on having sex with the sow. Its orgasm will take a full half hour. Compare this to a mere 120 seconds (2 minutes) for most men. Also, the pig has little screw-like grooves on the end of its penis that fit into a similar groove in the cervix of the female that guarantees that no sperm will leak during intercourse. The amount of sperm in a single pig’s ejaculation is about 400 times higher than the amount of sperm in a single human’s ejaculation, and none is lost. In most animals, the sperm cells, as they mature from stage to stage, are arranged in perfect order. It is not so in humans whose sperm cells develop in a helter-skelter fashion according to histologists.
Why is the human sperm count so poor?
Several factors lead to the low sperm count in men.
Stress: It has been well documented that modern life can have a negative impact on reproduction. Many sperm banks in Europe, America and here in Lagos get medical students or other professional students to donate their sperms. It is not unusual for good donors with high sperm counts on one occasion to have a weak sperm count on the next time, e.g., if the donor has an exam.
There was a case in the University of California where a donor’s sperm count went zero. It was only a close interview that revealed that this student was going through depression, thinking that his life was falling apart. There are cases of infertility with low sperm count from the husband. When the couple goes on vacation, the wife gets pregnant because of the change in the environment, which may eliminate the male stress factor and improve the chances of conception.
Hazardous Substances: Several factors in the environment have a terrible effect on the sperm. To make the situation worse, many of these substances have not been thoroughly documented, researched or accounted for. In a village in China, for instance, in the early 1920s, the people there discovered that fertility was on the decline and the women were not getting pregnant. Suddenly in the 1930s, the sterility was reversed, and the people started having children again. The villagers thought the curse placed on them was now eliminated. It was later they realised that the sterility was due to change in cooking oil. The use of cheap crude cottonseed oil for cooking created infertility in men.
The crude extract has the chemical called gossypols, which causes male sterility and used as a male contraceptive. A good number of these have been discovered by accident, while many are unidentified. There are possibly many herbs or fruits that contain gossypol-like substances that the Nigerian population eats and we do not know. A lot of food intolerances have been found to lead to intestinal auto-intoxication that ends up with toxins in the testis. The same goes for food containing heavy metals.
Recent studies have also shown that the oil and gas industry has a significant toll on decrease fertility. All the various environmental toxins are now regarded as ‘clear and present dangers’ and demand constant warning. It is why proper medical detoxification is now a recommended part of infertility. The International Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecology now has a committee dedicated to these reproductive toxins characterised as endocrine disruptors.
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