Health Care

Sperm counts in Western countries plunge more than 50% in 40 years

Sperm counts in Western countries plunge more than 50% in 40 years”

Researchers from Hebrew University have found that sperm concentration and total sperm count has significantly and steadily declined in Western men.

The black lines in this graphic from the study show the decline in sperm concentration and total sperm count among men in Western countries between 1973 and 2011.

"These findings have wide implications for public health", said Dr. Hagai Levine, head of the environmental health track at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The quality of sperm from men in North America, Europe and Australia has declined dramatically over the past 40 years with a 52.4 percent drop in sperm concentration, according to a study published Tuesday.

This study did not examine causes of the decline, but it has previously been linked to environmental and lifestyle factors, such as exposure to chemicals and increased rates of obesity in Western countries.

The study did not explain why sperm counts might be down in this group of men, but there are several theories based on prior research performed by the study authors and other groups.

Prof Richard Sharpe, from the MRC Centre for Reproductive Health at Edinburgh University, said more than 15 per cent of young men in Britain now have a low sperm count.

"The message is not new and we have suspected this decline for many years".

The review of previous research was created to measure the extent to which sperm count numbers have fallen, not to identify the cause of these dropping counts.

"We should solve this by addressing the root causes, whether by regulation of chemicals or health promotion in the broad sense to improve diet and physical activity or tobacco control", says Levine.

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As the most conclusive piece of research on sperm count to date, the study puts to rest numerous questions that have arisen about the trend in recent decades. The combination of these two factors may have caused sperm counts to be overestimated, resulting in the current startling low sperm count measurements.

They also had 32 per cent fewer swimmers that were normally formed.

"Are we exposing ourselves to. environmental components that are toxic to sperm?".

Humans could face extinction if sperm counts continue to drop as fast as they have done in the last four decades in Western countries, a study warns.

He pointed out that there has been concern about plastic materials containing BPA-disrupting hormones.

"It shows the decline is strong and that the decline is continuing, " Swan said in an interview. We also need local knowledge regarding exposure and effects. "The fact that the decline is seen in Western countries strongly suggests that chemicals in the environment are playing a causal role in this trend", added Swan. And for the growing number of couple who can't conceive, this is already a serious problem.

"If you look at this over the next 20 or 30 years, the average sperm count could drop to the point where people are troubled", Goldfarb told Healthline.

"This is a sign, like a canary in a coal mine", Levine said in a phone interview with The Times of Israel.

Sperm count is the best measure of male fertility, and lead author Dr Hagai Levine said the findings are an "urgent wake-up call" to investigate lifestyle factors, chemicals and environment that could cause the human species to go extinct. "Is this a reflection of something else that's happening, and this is just basically a marker for some other health concern that's going on with men?"

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