Professor Neils Skakkebaek told the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology annual meeting at Lausanne today (Monday 2 July) that rising testicular cancer incidence, poor semen quality, high frequency of undescended testicles and hypospadias (an abnormality of the penis) may all, in fact, be symptoms of a single underlying entity which he has now named TDS - Testicular Dysgenesis Syndrome.
He said that the different ages at which the various conditions presented in boys and men, coupled with the fact that medicine is highly specialised, meant that these reproductive problems were being looked at in isolation by specialists as varied as urologists, andrologists, oncologists and paediatric endocrinologists.
Professor Skakkebaek, who is a professor at Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet, said: "There is evidence that male reproductive function seems to have deteriorated considerably during the past 4 to 5 decades. For example, recent figures in Denmark show that reproductive diseases, including testicular cancer, are still increasing. Nearly 1 in 100 (mostly young) men are now treated for testicular cancer, over 5% of schoolboys have undescended testicles, nearly 1 in 100 have penile abnormalities at birth and over 40% have subnormal sperm counts. There are also concerns about a low and decreasing birth rate in many industrialised countries, where up to 5% of children are born using artificial reproductive techniques.
"TDS may be caused by genetic or environmental factors or a combination of both. But there is growing evidence from clinical observation of individual patients and from larger epidemiological studies that there is a synchronised increase b
Contact: Margaret Willson
European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology