A recent study found that sperm counts have been decreasing globally at a rate of 2.6% each year.
According to one of the researchers involved, it is moving at “an incredible pace,” and more men are likely to be below the reproductive threshold now than they were fifty years ago.
The study in Human Reproduction Update was based on more than 150 estimates from males who were most likely unaware of their fertility, building on prior studies. Sperm counts reportedly decreased by 1.2% per year from 1973 to 2000 and by 2.6% per year from 2000 to 2018.
Hagai Levine, MD, the study’s author from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told The Guardian, “I think it’s a crisis, that we [had] better solve now, before it may reach a tipping point which may not be reversed.”
He warned that some couples might not have enough time to have all the kids they desire.
Amy Sparks, a reproductive physiologist at the University of Iowa who was not involved in the study, told USA Today that the decline in sperm counts is not significant enough to have an impact on the human population.
According to her, the new research does not “indicate that our sperm concentrations are plummeting at a rate that will take us out to the point where every man needs to walk into an infertility centre.”
Uninvolved in the current study, Stanford University and Stanford Health Care urologist Michael Eisenberg, MD, said: “We don’t understand why we’re seeing this pattern, so I believe it’s hard to be alarmist for an individual.”
Experts suggest variables like smoking, drinking, obesity, and poor diet might also have an impact, according to The Guardian. One theory is that endocrine-disrupting chemicals or other environmental factors may play a role, acting on the foetus in the womb.
Total sperm capability is established throughout foetal development, hence Levine suggested that prenatal exposure to man-made toxins, stress, and poor food could all be contributory causes.
Sperm counts don’t fully capture the complexity of male fertility, so anyone worried about theirs should speak with a doctor. Health in general, including good nutrition, exercise, and quitting smoking, is crucial.
According to Eisenberg, anything that is healthy for your heart is also good for fertility. “I constantly tell guys there is a significant correlation between fertility and health,” she added.