Researchers from 3 continents and 5 nations assessing the results of almost 200 studies have confirmed a dramatic decline in sperm counts among men from North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. The review published in the renowned magazine Human Reproduction is one of the largest and most detailed on the subject, analysing the results of 185 studies between 1973 and 2011.
Lead scientist Dr Levine, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, reported a 52.4% reduction in sperm concentration, and a 59.3% fall in total sperm count in men from Western countries. An end to this development seems to be nowhere in sight…
Sperm quality is closely linked to male fecundity and IVF experts report an increasing demand for their services. Male infertility accounts for or contributes to approximately 60 % of cases in which a couple finds that conception does not come naturally.
Sperm count and other semen characteristics have been associated with multiple environmental impacts, such as endocrine disruptors, pesticides, heat, as well as lifestyle factors such as diet, stress, smoking, and BMI.
The researchers thus concluded that the alarming decrease in sperm counts very probably reflects the impacts of the modern environment and lifestyle on male health and fertility. They call for urgent action, because to date there is no sign that the trend is levelling off: there is demand for more research on the topic, better regulation of man-made chemicals, increased counselling to diminish smoking and obesity.
And there is quite a lot every man can do himself to protect his fertility: in addition to stop smoking and maintaining a healthy BMI, sperms benefit from low exposure to chemicals and protection from detrimental influences by certain antioxidants.
Levine H, Jorgensen N, Martino-Andrade A, Mendiola J, Weksler-Derri D, Mindlis I, Pinotti R, Swan SH. Temporal trends in sperm count: a systematic review and meta-regression analysis. Hum Reprod Update 2017; 1-14