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Global sperm count crisis threatens humanity’s existence

An international report stated that the decline reflects a "global crisis."

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Human sperm stained for semen quality testing in the clinical laboratory. (Wikimedia Commons)

By Stephen Beech via SWNS

The continued decline of sperm counts in men all over the world is a looming crisis that threatens the very existence of humanity, warns a new report.

The first major analysis of its kind has shown declining sperm counts among men from South and Central America, Asia and Africa.

Alarmingly, the study also shows that the decline in sperm counts in North America, Europe, and Australia - reported by the same research team in 2017 - has continued and even accelerated in the 21st Century.


The team explained that sperm count is not only an indicator of human fertility; it also is an indicator of men's health, with low levels being associated with increased risk of chronic disease, testicular cancer and a shorter lifespan.

They say the decline reflects a "global crisis" related to our modern environment and lifestyle, with broad implications for the survival of the human species.

The work was conducted by an international team led by Professor Hagai Levine, of Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Hadassah Braun School of Public Health, with Prof. Shanna Swan at the Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai, New York, along with other researchers in Denmark, Brazil, Spain, Israel and the United States.

(Photo by Nadezhda Moryak via Pexels)

This latest analysis, with data from 53 countries, published in the journal Human Reproduction Update, includes an additional seven years of data collection (2011-2018) and focuses on sperm count trends among men in regions not reviewed previously, specifically South America, Asia and Africa.

The data shows, for the first time, that men in those regions share the "significant decline" in total sperm counts (TSC) and sperm concentration (SC) seen previously in North America, Europe and Australia.

The study also shows an accelerated post-2000 decline in TSC and SC globally.

Levine said: “Overall, we’re seeing a significant worldwide decline in sperm counts of over 50 percent in the past 46 years, a decline that has accelerated in recent years."

While the current study did not examine the causes of sperm count declines, Prof Levine pointed to recent research indicating that disturbances in the development of the reproductive tract during fetal life are linked to lifetime impairment of fertility and other markers of reproductive dysfunction.

He also explained that “lifestyle choices and chemicals in the environment are adversely affecting this fetal development.


“Our findings serve as a canary in a coal mine.

"We have a serious problem on our hands that, if not mitigated, could threaten mankind’s survival."

"We urgently call for global action to promote healthier environments for all species and reduce exposures and behaviors that threaten our reproductive health."

Swan stressed that low sperm counts do not only affect men’s fertility, but have serious ramifications for men’s health more generally, and are linked with other adverse trends, termed together as testicular dysgenesis syndrome.

She said: “The troubling declines in men’s sperm concentration and total sperm counts at over one percent each year as reported in our paper are consistent with adverse trends in other men’s health outcomes, such as testicular cancer, hormonal disruption, and genital birth defects, as well as declines in female reproductive health.

"This clearly cannot continue unchecked."

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