Male fertility crash accelerating worldwide: study

The world is witnessing a silent but accelerating collapse in male fertility, according to an article published Tuesday in Human Reproduction Update magazine.

The study found that sperm counts fell by more than 51 percent between 1973 and 2018. And although sperm counts have been declining for decades, the rate of decline appears to be accelerating.

“I think it’s a crisis that we [had] better act now, before it reaches a tipping point that may be irreversible,” lead author Hagai Levine, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Hadassah Braun School of Public Health, told The Guardian.

Levine added to The Times of Israel that the results “serve like a canary in a coal mine. We are dealing with a serious problem that, if not mitigated, could endanger human survival.”

The rate of decline since 2000 has been remarkable, the study says, with an observed drop in sperm count per milliliter of semen of 2.64 percent per year – more than double the rate since 1978, according to The Guardian.

While the reasons for the decline are unclear, a major factor could be endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in thousands of everyday objects, co-author Shanna Swan of the Icahn School of Medicine told the Financial Times.

These compounds, found in everything from personal care products to food packaging, have particularly bad effects on reproductive function, Swan noted. She specifically cited phthalates and bisphenols, compounds used as liners in products like water bottles and take-out containers.

Levine and Swan’s joint study builds on existing evidence that has linked environmental chemicals to sustained rates of decrease in sperm count.

A 2021 Danish study listed chemicals found in or derived from fossil fuels as possible culprits, The Hill reported.

Potentially harmful chemicals from such sources “were found in blood, urine, semen, placenta, and breast milk samples of all people studied,” the study noted.

“It is well known that these chemicals have become part of our tissues and fluids,” the authors added. “We know they can pose a threat to wildlife. Unfortunately, too little has been done to uncover their role in humans.”

Plastic derivatives such as Bisphenol A (BPA), commonly added to food and beverage packaging, have also been linked to decreased male fertility and birth defects.

Many potentially toxic chemicals “reach us through food,” said Andreas Kortenkamp, ​​a professor at Brunel University London, in June.

“Much of bisphenol-A intake is through milk,” he added. “The liners of milk cartons and canned goods, for example canned tomatoes, leach BPA into the product.”

The Israeli study comes as the world population recently hit 8 billion. Still, birth rates are declining across the board — meaning it will take longer to add the next billion than the previous one.

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