It is alarming to realise that the rising tide of sexual ambiguity we are observing in affluent societies has been attributed to high levels of environmental pollution influencing the precarious process of embryonic development. Chemical interference in developmental programming has been blamed for a wide range of reproductive pathologies, including cancers of the testes and breast, sexual differentiation and neurodevelopmental impairments, including autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (Giulivi et al., a2016; Landrigan et al., 2020; Morris et ak., 2021).

From a female perspective, it is important to understand that the eggs you are born with are the eggs you will have for life. When you are attempting to conceive a child at the end of your reproductive lifespan, the eggs you are trying to ovulate have experienced 30-40 years of living in your ovaries. They have shared with you the years of experimentation with tobacco and recreational drugs, your dietary compulsions, your late-night drinking sessions and your prolonged mobile phone conversations, the pollutants in your water supply and the additives that adulterate your food. They are witness to all of the attributes of the modern living and, while the final say may lie in the hands of your genetic constitution, environmental/lifestyle factors have an important voice to contribute to the ultimate outcome (Canipari et al., 2020). Again, education and awareness are the major weapons at our disposal. Women need a better understanding of their biology and to be conscious that their reproductive future is sitting patiently in their ovaries waiting for the signal to go forth and multiply. While they are reposing in the reproduction’s waiting room, it is important that this precious store of eggs is cherished and cared for.

Men are different, because their spermatogonial stem cell population has such good DNA surveillance and repair that it can withstand all kinds of insults, including the highly toxic chemotherapeutic regimes used in the testament of cancer (Xavier et al., 2018). Since the stem cell population is generally so well preserved, sperm quality largely reflects environmental impacts occurring in the previous 74 days, rather than the previous 30 years.

Even as men age, the decreased level of DNA integrity observed in their spermatozoa (Evebson et al., 2020: Aitken and Bakos, 2021) represents damage occurring at some point in the current spermatogenic cycle, not accumulated over a lifetime, as in the female germ line. Because this system is so dynamic (men produce around 1000 spermatozoa per second), it is highly responsive to environmental change. We have already seen how sperm counts are falling all over the world at a pace that cannot be due to the spread of deleterious genes and must be reflective of changes in the environment and lifestyle that are associated with advanced industrialised societies.

I have suggested that this decline might be associated with a parallel reduction in circulating testosterone levels, possibly in response to a rising oestrogenic challenge mediated by changes in diet, metabolism and exposure to pollutants possessing oestrogen-like activity. In truth we have little evidence to support such hypothesis and it is just that – a hypothesis,

Whatever causes underpin declining sperm counts, there is no sign that this phenomenon is stabilising. If this decline continues on its current trajectory, then it is certainly possible that semen quality will regress to the point that it has a demographic impact, as emphasised by Shanna Swan (Swan and Coline, 2021)

Extracts from The Infertility Trap, by Laureate Professor John Aitken, Scientific Director at Memphasys.

Our Felix™ device stands as the result of our ongoing collaboration with Laureate Professor John Aitken, a globally recognised authority in reproductive biology. Harnessing Memphasys’ cutting-edge sperm separation technology, the Felix™ is now in commercial production and accessible for purchase in early-adopter countries such as Japan, Canada, and New Zealand. We’re currently engaged in clinical trials and regulatory preparations to introduce it to markets in China and Australia.

Our partnership with Professor Aitken has helped drive our strategic business growth in the assisted reproduction and fertility sector. Together, our goal is to develop a top-tier range of products, including devices, diagnostics, and media solutions, addressing pivotal issues in both human and animal reproduction.