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Russian men: an endangered species?

Published time: October 11, 2011 08:19
Edited time: October 12, 2011 11:38

RIA Novosti / Roman Khasaev

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It's a man's world, but maybe not for much longer. Scientists say males are on the road to extinction as their genes slowly fade away. And with the world heading for a fully-fledged sperm crisis, Russia could be affected worse than most.

­In a horrifying mutation, sperm with two heads, three tails or an inability to swim are becoming almost the norm amongst modern men.

“What used to be perceived as infertility is now very different. Twenty years ago, 200 million viable sperm per milliliter was considered normal. Today, 15 million is average,” Margarita Anshina, director of the Center for Reproduction and Genetics, told RT.

But proper sperm studies are not easy, and have never been conducted in Russia – until now. Professor Galimov was among the first, only to find more than half of his fellow countrymen’s sperm did not meet World Health Organization standards.

"Our study revealed not only the quantity but the quality also changes among Russian men as their sperm literally swim in a toxic soup," Shamil Galimov from the Bashkir State Medical University explained.

A whole range of poisonous substances including lead, cadmium and even mercury was found in their semen. And that’s not all.

“It’s been noted recently that any kind of stress – such as war, terrorist attacks, a polluted environment – leads to fewer boys being born and more girls – proving that the male chromosome is more vulnerable to outside influences,” Galimov pointed out.

And fewer men now means even fewer down the generations. Just look at the sea of ribbons at the start of a new school year and it’s clear: girls in Russia outnumber the boys.

The Smiryagins have five girls.

“With the eldest, Lena, we simply wanted a baby – never mind a boy or a girl. But when I got pregnant with the twins, psychics swore they were boys and even advised the names Artyom and Fyodor. Now they are Anna and Lisa. And this one – Olga – had been a guaranteed Timofey. And only Maria was Maria from the start. I was happy to have another girl – I wouldn’t know what to do with a boy now,” said Svetlana Smiryagina.

A big happy family. But when these girls are ready to start their own families, they will discover Russian men are dying out – faster than in any other country.

The total extinction of men may still be far off, but with growing mortality rates and life expectancy of Russian men dropping, tough guys are a dying breed.

This village with the unusual name of “Girls” remembers better times, when men from the village of “Boys” across the river kept them company. Now, only the girls are left.

Men in Russia live to 60 on average while women live to 72. That 12-year difference makes Russian male life expectancy the worst in the world. And while scientists around the globe rack their brains to save the human male, Russia has been doing little to preserve its menfolk.

“There are no national programs aimed at men’s health. The chance of a Russian man dying prematurely is 20 times higher than a man in Europe. Such are the consequences of the social and economic stresses of the 1990s in Russia, as well as smoking and drinking,” said Shamil Galimov.

Now that scientists have raised the alarm, there might be a chance that resources will be provided to bring the Russian male back from the brink of a seemingly terminal decline.

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