Men in Switzerland have one of the lowest sperm counts in Europe, according to researchers.
Scientists said Swiss men's sperm quality was in a 'critical state' and it could be an indicator of worse fertility or even testicular cancer risk in the future.
Some 60 per cent of men in the study had a problem with their sperm, either having too few of them, poor motility or abnormally formed cells.
Sperm counts across the Western world have been falling for years and some experts suggest modern lifestyles are damaging men's fertility.
Scientists from the University of Geneva found almost one in five men had sperm counts so low they were considered 'subfertile' and were likely to have trouble conceiving (stock image)
Researchers at the University of Geneva tested sperm samples from 2,523 men aged between 18 and 22.
The men, who were serving mandatory military service at the time, had to masturbate into a tube at a clinic after avoiding having sex for at least two days beforehand.
The researchers found the group's median sperm count – the middle of the range in the data – was just 47million sperm per ml of semen.
The range for European men is 41m to 67m, meaning Switzerland places close to the bottom.
In comparisons with other countries Switzerland had higher sperm counts than Denmark, Norway and Germany, the researchers showed.
But its sperm count was lower than Finland, Lithuania, Estonia and Spain – Spain was the highest with 62million sperm per ml, according to data from 2012.
Almost two thirds of Swiss men had an issue with their sperm and, among 40 per cent of them, only four per cent of their sperm were properly developed.
Some 17 per cent of the men had sperm concentration below 15m per ml, which could seriously damage their fertility.
Scientists said they were particularly concerned about the sub-par sperm counts because lower counts are linked to a higher risk of testicular cancer.
'It's important to understand that the time needed to conceive increases significantly if a man has a sperm concentration below 40 million sperm per ml,' said Professor Serge Nef, who led the study.
The following figures represent median – the mid-range of available data – sperm counts for European countries which were compared to Switzerland in the research.Denmark 41million sperm per ml (2002) Norway 41m per ml (2002) Germany 44m per ml (2008) Switzerland 47m per ml (2019) Finland 48m per ml (2006) Lithuania 55m per ml (2002) Estonia 57m per ml (2002) Spain 62m per ml (2012)
Other countries did not have enough data for researchers to compare them to Switzerland.
His team explained