When you hear stories of about infertility, your mind automatically goes to the woman potentially having some issues conceiving. But we often forget that men play just as important a role as women do, and recent research shows that the sperm count around the world has been dropping significantly over the last several decades, resulting in concern about the future of humankind.
Men are rarely scrutinized for their contribution to fertility, but it takes two to tango, as they say, so they have to be factored into the equation. A recent study published in the journal, Human Reproduction Update, shows that there's a global crisis of sperm count, indicating that even the concentration of sperm amongst men has significantly dropped. Experts are worried that this could affect the future of the entire world.
Global Sperm Counts Have Dropped 62% Since 1973, Which "Could Threaten Mankind's Survival"
According to the reviewed study, sperm counts have dropped 62% around the world between 1973 and 2018. Additionally, the concentration of sperm fell from 101.2 million to 49 million sperm per milliliter of semen, which means it has dropped more than 51%. The World Health Organization says anything below 15 million sperm per milliliter is considered to be a low sperm concentration, but experts are still concerned that the levels of sperm are going to affect the world's reproductive future.
This isn't exactly news, though. In 2017, the same team who conducted this recent research found that Western countries such as the US, Australia, New Zealand, and parts of Europe saw a 50% decline in sperm count from 1973 to 2011. Professor Hagai Levine of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem is an epidemiologist who led the study with Professor Shanna Swan from New York’s Icahn School of Medicine, and Professor Levine says the findings are "a canary in a coal mine."
“We have a serious problem on our hands that, if not mitigated, could threaten mankind’s survival,” he says. “We should be amazed and worried by the finding."
Of course this significant dip in sperm count could seriously affect men's ability to reproduce healthy children, and the United States is already facing a decline in the national birth rate. It has fallen 20% since 2007, which is data pulled from earlier this year. If we even want to keep the same population moving forward, we have to think about what we can do to increase fertility rates and birth rates.
“The trend of decline is very clear. This is a remarkable finding and I feel responsible to deliver it to the world. The decline is both very real and appears to be accelerating,” Professor Levine continues.
“What is more, we’re looking at averages, and if men are today averaging 50 million sperm per milliliter, there are large numbers of men who today have under 40 million sperm per milliliter — in other words, fertility that is actually suboptimal,” he says.
But even more than the birth rate, having a low sperm count often points to general health issues. Low sperm counts are often linked to testicular cancer, lower life expectancy, increased risk of chronic illness, and increased risk of miscarriage or placenta issues during the pregnancy.
“The troubling declines in men’s sperm concentration and total sperm counts at over 1% each year as reported in our paper are consistent with adverse trends in other men’s health outcomes,” Professor Swan says. “These include testicular cancer, hormonal disruption and genital birth defects, as well as declines in female reproductive health. This clearly cannot continue unchecked."
Staying active, leading a healthy lifestyle, and eating a clean, nutrient-dense diet is a fantastic start to helping men naturally increase their sperm count. It also helps immensely to detox your household and stay away from endocrine disruptors that can affect sperm health, such as traditional deodorant, shampoo, and hand soap.