The decline in sperm count is accelerating around the world, threatening the future of humanity, a study warns

The world’s sperm count has halved in the past five decades, and the rate of decline has more than doubled since the turn of the century, new research shows.

The international team behind it says the data is alarming and points to a fertility crisis that threatens human survival.

Their meta-analysis examined 223 studies based on sperm samples from over 57,000 men in 53 countries.

It shows for the first time that men in Latin America, Asia and Africa have similar declines in total sperm count and concentration as previously observed in Europe, North America and Australia.

The authors warn that average sperm counts have now fallen dangerously close to the threshold making conception difficult, meaning couples around the world could be struggling to conceive a baby without medical assistance.

The results published Tuesday in the journal Update on human reproductionserve as “a canary in a coal mine,” said Professor Hagai Levine, the study’s lead author of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Hadassah Braun School of Public Health.

“We are dealing with a serious problem that, if not mitigated, could threaten the very survival of humanity,” he said in an opinion.

A 50% drop in sperm counts

Also there as part of a team Professor Shanna Swan At the Icahn School of Medicine in New York, Levine, along with researchers in Denmark, Brazil, Spain, Israel and the United States, studied sperm count trends in regions that had not previously been studied.

The same team had previously reported an alarming drop in sperm counts across the western world in 2017.

In this latest study, they found that average sperm counts around the world had dropped by over 50 percent over the past five decades.

Data from 1973 to 2018 showed that sperm count declined an average of 1.2 percent per year. Data after 2000 showed a decline of more than 2.6 percent per year.

“It’s just incredible. I couldn’t believe it myself,” Levine told Euronews Next.

The fact that these results have been confirmed in the rest of the world, according to Levine, points to a global crisis that could be likened to climate change.

“As with climate change, the impacts can be different in different places, but in general the phenomenon is global and should be treated as such,” he added.

“It looks like a pandemic. She is everywhere. And some of the causes may stay with us for a very long time.”

Declining chances of conception

The researchers say that while sperm counts are “an imperfect indicator of fertility,” they are closely linked to fertility chances.

They explain that a higher sperm count above a threshold of 40-50 million/mL does not necessarily imply a higher probability of conception.

On the other hand, below this threshold, the likelihood of conception decreases rapidly as the sperm count decreases.

“At the population level, the decline in mean sperm count from 104 to 49 million/mL reported here implies a significant increase in the proportion of men with delayed conception,” the study authors write.

While their research did not examine the causes of this drop in sperm count, the authors say it reflects “a global crisis related to our modern environment and lifestyle,” and they point it out disruptive role of chemicals on our endocrine and reproductive systems.

They add that sperm count is also an indicator of men’s health, with low levels being linked to an increased risk of chronic disease, testicular cancer and a shortened lifespan.

The turning point of humanity?

The results were released on World Population Day passed the 8 billion markwhich puts more pressure on the planet’s limited natural resources.

“Philosophically, the drop in sperm count and infertility is maybe the way in the world to balance out what’s going on,” Levine told Euronews Next.

“But you know, that’s just a thought. It’s not a scientific thought.”

He said the results should be of interest to everyone – regardless of their opinion of how many people the planet needs right now.

“Sperm count is a very good measure of global health and our future. And whatever number of people you think we need on Earth, you don’t want it to be dictated by dangerous events and not our own choices,” Levine said.

“I think we need to monitor it very carefully at a global level, at a population level, at a local country level and also at a personal level,” he added, urging authorities to improve lifestyles and limit human exposure to man-made chemicals for better Regulation.

“Sometimes there’s a tipping point and the system immediately collapses. It means something’s happening to our ecosystems, our reproductive systems – and eventually it’s just too much.”

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