Worldwide sperm counts declining at alarming rates according to new research

Worldwide sperm counts are reportedly declining at alarming rates with humans faced with a reproduction crisis if actions are not taken. This is according to a study published in the journal Human Reproduction Update. According to The Guardian, a study published in the journal details 153 estimates of men suggesting that the average sperm concentration fell 51.6% between 1973 and 2018. Total sperm count fell by 62.3% during the same period.

The same research team found in 2017 that sperm concentration more than halved in the past 40 years in the regions of North America, Australia, and Europe. Now, the newest study includes data from 53 countries. The newest findings include Central and South America, Asia, and Africa as featuring declines in sperm concentration. And, the rate of decline has increased by 1.16% per year since 1973. Even more troubling is that the rate of decline was calculated at 2.64% since the year 2000.

Hagai Levine, a professor who first authored the research from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, says the results indicate that there is something wrong with the world.

“I think this is another signal that something is wrong with the globe and that we need to do something about it. So yes, I think it’s a crisis, that we [had] better tackle now, before it may reach a tipping point which may not be reversible.”

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Although the study’s results are troubling, it did have its limitations including not looking at other markers of sperm quality. The study accounted for factors including age and how long men had gone without ejaculating but excluded men known to suffer from infertility. Allan Pacey, a professor of andrology at the University of Sheffield, says he remains on the fence over whether there is a decline.

“Counting sperm, even with the gold standard technique of [the laboratory process] haemocytometry, is really difficult. I believe that over time we have simply got better at it because of the development of training and quality control programmes around the world. I still think this is much of what we are seeing in the data.”

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Ann Carter

Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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