New research shows that a worldwide drop in sperm counts over the last 50 years could lead to a major reproductive crisis.
According to the New York Post, a peer-reviewed study in the journal Human Reproduction Update found that global sperm counts have plunged by over 62 percent between 1973 and 2018. The study was led by Professor Hagai Levine at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, along with Professor Shanna Swan at the Icahn School of Medicine in New York.
“We have a serious problem on our hands that, if not mitigated, could threaten mankind’s survival,” said Professor Levine in a statement, describing the findings as “a canary in a coal mine.”
For their study, the two lead researchers were joined by researchers from Brazil, Spain, and Denmark, as they reviewed sperm count trends in areas of the world that had previously not been recorded for study. Although they could not definitively provide reasons for the trend, others have proposed obesity, smoking, sedentary lifestyles, and exposure to particular chemicals such as pesticides as potential culprits.
The study, which includes over seven years’ worth of statistics, further shows that sperm counts have dropped by over 50 percent between 1973 and 2011 in America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. The research covers 53 different countries and considers 223 previous studies based on sperm samples from over 57,000 men, thus providing a far more comprehensive review than any other past study.
Both of the lead researchers emphasized that the findings represent a dire threat to the future of mankind’s reproductivity if it is not addressed.
“We should be amazed and worried by the finding,” said Levine in an interview with The Times of Israel. “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.”
“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,” said Professor Swan. “These include testicular cancer, hormonal disruption and genital birth defects, as well as declines in female reproductive health. This clearly cannot continue unchecked.”