A looming male fertility crisis
July 25, 2017 7:54 PM Subscribe
A newly published meta-analysis of 185 studies of 42,935 male-bodied people from 1972-2011 [pdf] found that sperm concentration has fallen by 52.4% in North America, Europe Australia and New Zealand—with no sign of stopping. No significant trends were seen in South America, Asia and Africa, but the authors noted that limitations in the underlying studies made it impossible to rule out a significant trend in those continents as well.
While the current study is not designed to provide direct information on the causes of the observed declines, sperm count has been plausibly associated with multiple environmental and lifestyle influences, both prenatally and in adult life. In particular, endocrine disruption from chemical exposures or maternal smoking during critical windows of male reproductive development may play a role in prenatal life, while lifestyle changes and exposure to pesticides may play a role in adult life.Further,
Declines in sperm count have implications beyond fertility and reproduction. The decline we report here is consistent with reported trends in other male reproductive health indicators, such as testicular germ cell tumors, cryptorchidism, onset of male puberty and total testosterone levels. The public health implications are even wider. Recent studies have shown that poor sperm count is associated with overall morbidity and mortality...Thus, a decline in sperm count might be considered as a ‘canary in the coal mine’ for male health across the lifespan. Our report of a continuing and robust decline should, therefore, trigger research into its causes, aiming for prevention.
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