On July 25, researchers terrified us all by publishing a report revealing a plummeting sperm count in America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Essentially, something about Westernized culture seems to be putting sperm at risk — though we still don’t have a confirmed answer as to what is instigating the drop.
There are two methods of measuring the bounty of sperm: sperm concentration and sperm count. Both numbers have dropped dramatically, with the concentration declining by 52 percent and the count declining by a staggering 59 percent.
The study, published in the journal Human Reproduction Update, compared sperm count and concentrations from 185 studies to create an analysis of sperm through the decades — an analysis that proved depressing at best. Sperm health has become increasingly tenuous, declining at an average rate of 1.6 percent per year. After 40 years of steady decline, we’re in big trouble.
“This study is an urgent wake-up call for researchers and health authorities around the world to investigate the causes of the sharp ongoing drop in sperm count,” Hagai Levine, who co-led the study, emphasized.
Previous studies have linked declining sperm count to factors such as exposure to certain chemicals and pesticides, smoking, and stress — all of which have detrimental health effects outside of the reproductive system, as well. A decline in sperm count could be indicating a decline in health outcomes overall, which is certainly a cause for scientific attention.
South America, Asia, and Africa were also studied, but curiously, did not exhibit a significant change in sperm count. What is the Western world doing wrong?
Evidently, something needs to change: One in eight American couples battles infertility, according to some reports. Infertility treatments can be expensive, risky, and time-consuming — not something any society wants to rely on in excess.
Additionally, infertility can cause significant relational and individual duress. “Men often feel emasculated as a result of infertility,” says Resolve, a national infertility association. “Sex comes to mean failure — failure to conceive and therefore failure to be a ‘real man’.”
While the instigator behind the plummeting numbers remains unknown, there are a few things you can do to avoid dropping your sperm count even lower.