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Sex is dying out. Why??

According a recent Japanese government survey, there has been nothing short of a staggering decline in sex drive amongst both Japanese men and women. It's worth reading the whole summary:

The latest biennial survey found that 36.1 per cent of Japanese males between the ages of 16-19 said they had no interest or even despised sex, a jump from 17.5 percent in the 2008 study. 
Compounding the issue was data that showed 59 per cent of girls in the same age group felt the same way, up 12 percentage points from 2008. 
Japan's total fertility rate in 2009 was estimated by the government at 1.37 births per woman, one of the world's lowest, compared with 2.06 in the United States and 1.97 in France.
Collectively, the survey found all age categories showed a general lack of interest toward sex, except for men in their 30-34 years of age with just 5.8 per cent of these respondents not interested, as opposed to 8.3 per cent in 2008.
The survey also found that 40.8 per cent of married people said they had not had sex in the past month, up from 36.5 per cent in the 2008 survey and 31.9 per cent in the 2004 survey.
Nearly 50 per cent of married people older than 40 years old said they have not had sex in the past month, the study said.
Among reasons for not having sex, survey participants cited vague reluctance after childbirth, that they could not be bothered, or that they were too tired after work, it said.
OMG. Taking just one of these stunning figures, over just the past 2 years, yes just 2 years, the number of Japanese teenage males interested in sex (aren't ALL teenage males interested in sex all the time - or at least every 17 seconds if that urban myth is correct?) has declined from around 80% to 40%. Halved!!

"Sample size, sample size" I hear you scream. Nearly 1,000 males and same number of females, although admittedly I don't know how many were in the age range. But look at the rest of the figures. Every age range (except men 30-34?!) showed a reduction in sexual interest.

So maybe its a Jananese phenomenon. Actually it's far wider.

What's the difference between this typical shot of a group of men in 1900

and this one taken this year?

Or this one:

and this one:

mclennan community college mens golf team
Face Fur!

OK you will probably say it's all about fashion and I could probably find plenty of clean shaven men 100 years ago and plenty of bearded ones today to prove the opposite. My point is not that fewer men these days have beards and moustaches (a fact I hope you will agree from High St and workplace observation), it's that I believe fewer men CAN grow them. next time you see a younger man (say 20 to 40), look how dark his shaven face is. To grow a thick beard (which according to the above pics of 1900 chaps with face hair, every single one does have), you need dense follicles. For dark haired men that will make their shaved skin much darker. Most men I know, and certainly most young men including my 20 year-old son, can't grow any sort of beard at all. Not even a thin one. Hair simply isn't growing all over their chins and upper lips.

My theory (backed up by no scientific research) is that most men (including in the Far East, but not yet, from general observation, in the middle east and India) cannot grow significant face hair.

If true, then why? Are these facts related?

Are there any other observations of something happening to human males lately?

This is a summary of a study reported on The Internet Journal of Urology
There have been a number of studies over the past 15-20 years which suggest that sperm counts in man are on the decline. Since these changes are recent and appear to have occurred internationally, it has been presumed that they reflect adverse effects of environmental or lifestyle factors on the male rather than, for example, genetic changes in susceptibility. If the decrease in sperm counts were to continue at the rate that it is then in a few years we will witness widespread male infertility. To date it remains unknown why this is happening and the available preventative measures, which can be taken to avoid a continuation of this trend, are not common knowledge.
It goes on to say:
the Department of Growth and Development at Copenhagen University had reviewed 61 international studies involving 14,947 men between 1938 and 1992 (4). They found that the average sperm count had fallen from 113 million per millilitre in 1940 to 66 million in 1990. In addition, the definition of a “normal” sperm count fell from 60 million per millilitre to 20 million in the same period
There are many more incredible statistics in this report. We're not talking about a small decrease. We're talking around a THIRD the amount of sperm per ml we used to have (and that was in 2004. What's it now if the Japanese sex interest research is related in any way?).

Am I the only person who finds all this amazing?

One more, and in this instance a somewhat personal observation. The appeal of pornography. OK I'm getting older. But since I first discovered on broadband about 5 years ago, together with many other totally uncensored, anything goes, free of charge porn websites, purely in the interest of scientific research of course, I have been noticing that my interest in browsing those sites over that short period of time has completely waned. It's not that I have got bored with one particular female's body or with whatever fetish I might have, it's that the ability to watch unlimited numbers of them baring all and performing sex in every possible way right in front of me has simply become boring (excuse the pun - not intended). I doubt there is a video I could be shown that would get me anything more than mildly interested. Should you ever be daft enough to visit a pole-dancing bar, take a look at the regulars. They're more interested in their drinks and chatting to their mates than lusting after the gyrating females on show. Has it always been like that?

Has familiarity bred contempt, or have men, and maybe women, changed in some way, and very recently and suddenly at that?

There are probably many other avenues of research worth looking at. Average testosterone levels over time for one. Marriages? Birth rates? Sex crimes? Virtual relationships preferable to physical? Use of pornography? Amount of sex?.....

Again purely from personal experience, when I was at university I spent most of my waking hours dreaming up ways to meet and bonk girls. I got to a total of about 50 or so conquests during those 3 years in the 1970s (and probably the same number again during my 20s, until I got married of course). I have no way of knowing what kids are up to these days, but from talking to my son and daughter who are both at uni, and from comments I've loosely picked up, bouncing from bed to bed is less appealing than getting drunk with your mates (both sexes). One of the reasons me and my mates rarely got drunk was because it affected our pulling powers. Doesn't seem to bother today's youth. Drunkenness is the objective, not the risk.

So why are men, in the UK at any rate, losing their masculinity both in terms of behaviour and physiologically? Darwin might suggest that any change to behaviour and physiology is because we are evolving to enable our genes to prosper within a changing environment. In other words to help us and therefore our children better survive and increase in numbers. But by definition a reduced desire for sex coupled with a reduced ability to fertilise means precisely the opposite. So assuming Darwin isn't wrong, there can only be two explanations for these observations:
  • What is happening will in some way help our species survive (Nature)
  • We are poisoning ourselves (Nurture - or in this case, a distinct lack of it)
There is no way I am going to explore every argument and possibility for either of the above in this blog. Clearly it is massively complex and there are probably an infinite number of factors at work. But there is one idea I'd like to float to round off this piece, and that's the idea of Gaia needing to reduce the number of humans.

We all know we are fast running out of resources, so some natural mechanism to stop us killing ourselves seems reasonable (if not a little goddish - which as an aetheist I am not for a second suggesting might be an answer). But there is a flaw in this idea (probably many). The people apparently most affected by the sex reduction (I think) are the affluent, not the poor and starving. Our supermarkets are stacked high. We've never been more capable of eating ourselves to oblivion. Our bodies can't possibly know that we are eating our way through dwindling resources, so all logic would suggest that our survival model is a very good one, and therefore worth propagating as far as possible. We should be having a population explosion in developed countries, not everything conspiring to reduce our numbers.

Maybe its something to do with the way as a species we are getting much older on average. The proportion of old to young in western society is changing dramatically (as dramatically as our sex drives are going in the opposite direction perhaps?). The graphic below is self-explanatory (if you have good eye-sight). It plots USA population age ranges against volumes at various points in history, and then extrapolates them at current rates of change into the not-so-distant future. Pretty dramatic.

Maybe this is natures way of old people somehow communicating (pheromones?) to the young to slow down our breeding. The old are beginning to outnumber the young which will put a heavy toll on society, not to mention increasing the chances of warfare between competing tribes.

Ridiculous? Perhaps. But why isn't this the most important question for our species? What is the mechanism which is affecting our ability to reproduce? Not a bad thing perhaps, given the alternatives. Probably not a good thing to reverse. OK, let's keep it to ourselves... but it's really intriguing, n'est pas?


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