Male sperm counts plummeting, according to new research

sperm counts

New research has revealed the sperm count in Western men has declined significantly over the past 40 years. Some reports are even going as far as to say it could put the human race on the brink of extinction. While that may be a little over-dramatic, there’s no denying it’s a cause for concern as male fertility rates continue to drop.

So, what’s behind the sperm count decline and what can be done about it? Below, we’ll look at the results of the recent research and what it means for Western countries.

Understanding the research

The recent research was co-produced by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Icahn School of Medicine. Together, they analysed data from 185 different studies involving nearly 43,000 men from New Zealand, North America, Europe and Australia.

Published in the Human Reproduction Update journal, the research found from 1973 through until 2011, the total sperm count had dropped by 59.3 per cent. Furthermore, the sperm concentration levels had also declined by 52.4 per cent.

In contrast, the sperm count levels in countries such as Asia, Africa and South America, didn’t show the same pattern of decline. However, this could be in part, down to fewer studies available in these countries.

Experts are claiming the results of this research should be a drastic wake-up call that more needs to be done to prevent further decline.

Why are sperm counts plummeting?

The research didn’t look for the reasons behind the decline, however it has previously been associated with both modern lifestyle and environmental changes. In particular, obesity levels have increased in western countries; a problem known to lead to fertility issues.

As published in the British Journal of Obesity, the majority of research into the link between obesity and fertility has largely been focused on women. However, studies carried out on obese men have discovered it often results in a low sperm count and even erectile dysfunction.

Over the past 30 years, the rate of male obesity has tripled. Studies have shown that obese and overweight men are 50% more likely to experience fertility issues than men of a normal weight.

It isn’t just increased obesity levels that are the problem, however. Chemical exposure is also said to be a major contributor to dropping sperm counts. Studies have shown that certain chemicals are damaging the endocrine system in humans and wildlife; leading to Testicular Dysgenesis Syndrome. This is a collective term for numerous conditions including birth defects and low sperm counts.

These chemicals are said to be found practically everywhere in Western societies, including household products, health and beauty products, food and even our children’s toys. Just some experts warn against include Phthalates, Fluoride and pesticides.

Overall, the significant drop in sperm count isn’t just a major concern in terms of fertility. Other studies have shown that men who do have a low sperm count, are at an increased risk of developing a serious illness, much sooner than men with a normal sperm count. One thing this recent research has shown us, is that more definitely needs to be done to combat and prevent sperm count levels dropping further.