Sperm counts continue to plummet in Western nations, study finds

Sperm counts continue to plummet in Western nations, study finds

Scientists examining almost 200 studies from the last 40 years say sperm counts have halved among men from North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.

Hagai Levine, lead researcher of the study, said in an interview with BBC that he was "very anxious " about what might happen in the future.

The findings have important public health implications.

In the first systematic review of trends in sperm count, researchers this week reported in the journalHuman Reproduction Update a significant decline in sperm concentration and total sperm count among men from Western countries. He is anxious that the style of life, the chemicals we are exposed to and the whole environment has to do with this issue.

Also, as a research-reviewer for the Great Britain's National Health Service noted, "Although the study did report a dramatic-sounding decline in average sperm count from 92.8 million/ml to 66.4 million/ml, this is still well within the range needed to conceive".

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They found a 52.4 percent decline in sperm concentration, and a 59.3 percent decline in total sperm count among men from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand who were not selected based on their fertility status.

"Eventually we may have a problem, and with reproduction in general, and it may be the extinction of the human species".

While some scientists that weren't involved in this study admire the thoroughness of the research, they think it's too early to think of extinction.

The team screened 7518 studies and included a total of 244 estimates of sperm concentration and total sperm count from 185 studies of 42,935 men who provided semen samples. However, the current study uses a broader scope and rigorous meta-regression methods, conservatively addresses the reliability of study estimates, and controls for factors that might help explain the decline such as age, abstinence time, and selection of the study population. "We are all exposed to many new chemicals, and we have evidence that some of these chemicals, like phthalates, disrupt development of the male reproductive system in utero as well as harm sperm production in adult life", he says, adding that smoking is also toxic for men's sperm counts.

But the researchers claim to have accounted for some of these deficiencies, leaving some doubters, such as Prof Allan Pacey of Sheffield University, less sceptical. It is assumed though that it has to do with obesity, stress, diet, smoking, watching TV (yes, even that) and contact with chemicals that are used in plastics.

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