Humanity faces reproductive crisis, andrologists warn

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Humanity faces reproductive crisis, andrologists warn
Humanity faces reproductive crisis, andrologists warn
15 November, 23:44SciencePhoto: SeongJoon Cho | Bloomberg
Global statistics show that sperm concentration has halved in 40 years, and the rate of decline continues to accelerate.

Israeli male reproductive health experts believe that humanity may be facing a reproductive crisis as sperm concentration continues to fall, a worldwide trend. A study dedicated to this appeared in the journal Human Reproduction Update, reports The Guardian.

In 2017, the same group of andrologists published a study showing that the average man's sperm count had more than halved in the past 40 years. That study was based on data from Europe, North America and Australia. This time, the researchers expanded the sample, taking into account more recent data from 53 countries, among which were the countries of Central and South America, Africa and Asia.

The results showed that over 45 years - from 1973 to 2018 - the average sperm concentration fell from 101.2 million per 1 ml of ejaculate to 49.0 million per 1 ml. In percentage terms, the drop in concentration was 51.6%. The total sperm count over the same period decreased by 62.3%. Moreover, the study found that the rate of decline appears to be increasing.

“I think this is another signal that something is wrong with the globe and we need to do something about it. I think this is a crisis that we'd better deal with now before it reaches a tipping point that could be irreversible," said study leader Professor Hagay Levin of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

It is believed that a man's fertility is impaired when the concentration of sperm falls below 40 million per 1 ml of ejaculate. The figures given in the study are above this threshold, but these are average figures, which means that the percentage of men experiencing problems with conception is increasing. That is, the ability of mankind to reproduce as a whole is falling.

What explains this trend is unknown. There is a hypothesis that endocrine disrupting chemicals or other environmental factors affecting the fetus in the womb may be the cause. Smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity and poor diet may also play a role. It is known that a healthy lifestyle can help increase sperm count.

Deteriorating male reproductive health means that couples take longer to conceive and attempts to conceive are postponed indefinitely until a woman is in her 30s or 40s, the age at which female fertility declines.

According to experts, this is a problem not only for childless couples, but for the whole of humanity. According to forecasts, in the next 50 the world's population will steadily age, and next to the elderly, who will become more and more, there will be too few young people who can help them.

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