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We know that in all species, there is a very short window, in fact, a matter of days during each month that the female is fertile and can get pregnant with intercourse. The timing of sex is therefore very important if a species is to have an efficient and high fertility rate.

In humans, women go through a period of fourteen days when the follicle in the ovary develops. This starts from the day one of the menstruation until the egg is sufficiently matured and ready for ovulation. Once the egg is released at ovulation, there is another fourteen days period that it can be fertilised. 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 very unlikely that the woman will get pregnant in that cycle /month.

Animals go through what is described as 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, oestrogen, 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 complex and is not driven by the female sex hormone oestrogen, but by the male sex hormone testosterone. This is unique in the animal kingdom and it is a human phenomenon. The small amount of testosterone that the female makes are enough to generate a sexual drive in her. It is only 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 a 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 for the purpose of having babies. This makes us less reproductively efficient which makes infertility common in humans because the human reproductive system was never that efficient to begin with.

The reproductive system of the human male is also highly inefficient. Most male animals produce 25 million sperms per day per gramme of testicular tissue. Humans produce only four million sperms. Only the gorilla, the cheetah and the goose produce less sperm per gramme and testicular tissue than humans.

To illustrate the importance of sperm per gramme of testicular tissue, the average bull ejaculates about ten billion sperms whereas the average fertile man ejaculation would contain between one and five million sperms. This means that the average bull in a single ejaculation produces thirty to one hundred times more than that of the average man. The bull 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. This guarantees that no sperm will leak during intercourse. The amount of sperm in a single pig’s ejaculation is about four hundred 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. This is not so in humans whose sperm cells mature in a helter-skelter fashion according to histologists.

Why is human sperm count so poor?

Several factors have been blamed for 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 poor sperm count on the next occasion. There was a case in the University of California, United States of America where a donor’s sperm count went literally zero. It was only a close interview that revealed that this student was going through a bout of depression thinking that his life was falling apart. There are cases of infertility with a 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 at conception.

Hazardous substances: There are several factors in the environment that have a terrible effect on 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 they 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 that the curse placed on them had been lifted. It was later they realized that the sterility was due to a change in cooking oil. The use of cheap crude cottonseed oil for cooking created sterility in men.

It was found that the crude extract has a chemical called gossypols that causes male sterility and has now been used as a male contraceptive. A good number of these have been discovered by accident while there are several out there that are yet to be discovered.

There are possibly many herbs or fruits that contain gossypol-like substances that the Nigerian population eats and we do not know about. A lot of food intolerances have been found to lead to intestinal auto-intoxication that end up with toxins in the testis.

The same goes for food containing heavy metals. This is why proper medical detoxification is now a recommended part of infertility.

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