fall in sperm.
'Shocking' fall in sperm counts in the West have doctors warning against human extinction.
Men's sperm counts have fallen by almost 60 per cent since the 1970s, according to research that warns modern life — from tight undies to obesity — may be fuelling a fertility crisis.
Sperm counts keep falling in the West. Getty Creative Images.
'Shocking' fall in sperm counts in the West have doctors warning against human extinction… (By Laura Donnelly).
Men’s sperm counts have fallen by almost 60 per cent since the 1970s, according to research that warns modern life may be fuelling a fertility crisis.
Experts said the “shocking” decline should be treated as an “urgent wake-up call,” with chemicals, pesticides, stress, obesity and tight underpants among the factors linked to the changes.
Researchers said humans could become extinct if sperm counts in Western countries continue to fall at the current rates.
A file photo of a close-up shot of sperm. Files.
Researchers behind the study, which tracked more than 40,000 men, said the findings should also be seen as a “canary in the coal mine” that could signal damage to health far beyond fertility.
Lower sperm count is linked to higher death rates, as well as to increased chances of suffering other diseases.
Dr Hagai Levine, lead author, said: “If we will not change the ways that we are living and the environment and the chemicals that we are exposed to, I am very worried about what will happen in the future.
Eventually we may have a problem, and with reproduction in general, and it may be the extinction of the human species.
“Eventually we may have a problem, and with reproduction in general, and it may be the extinction of the human species.”
In recent years, a number of studies have linked declining sperm quality and quantity to exposure to chemicals and pesticides — as well as to lifestyle factors, including stress, obesity and habits such as wearing tight underpants.
The new research, the first systematic review of trends, examined more than 180 studies over four decades. It concluded that, overall, total sperm counts in Western countries have fallen by 59 per cent since 1973, with a 52 per cent fall in sperm concentration.
The study, by the Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, did not establish which factors were most to blame.
But the study found the decline in Western countries far outpaced that elsewhere in the world, which researchers said “strongly suggests” that chemicals are among the main causes.
Daniel Brison, honorary professor of clinical embryology and stem cell biology, and scientific director of the Department of Reproductive Medicine, University of Manchester, said: “The extent of the decline in sperm counts in the Western world revealed in this study is shocking.
“As the authors point out this has major implications not just for fertility but for male health and wider public health.” He added it remained “an unanswered question” whether the causes of declining sperm counts could damage future generations of children, with harms passed on.
“This study should act as a wake-up call to prompt active research in this area,” he said.
Richard Sharpe, honorary professor, MRC Centre for Reproductive Health, University of Edinburgh, said the drop in sperm count, and delays in starting families, with more people waiting until the female partner was in her 30s, meant many couples were left facing a “double whammy” when they tried to conceive.
More than 15 per cent of young men have sperm counts low enough to impair fertility, he said – a figure which is expected to worsen.
While average concentration has fallen from 99 million sperm per ml to 47 million per ml, the World Health Organisation classes low sperm concentration as less than 15 million per ml.
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