Young couple with a baby

Couples who want children may be having more difficulty than their parents did. A new meta-analysis shows that sperm counts among men around the world have dropped dramatically since the 1970s.

Studying Sperm Counts:

The analysis included data from 185 studies, with approximately 42,000 men participating in them between 1973 and 2011. According to these data, sperm counts declined by just over 50 percent in Europe, Australia and North America. No similar drops were seen in Africa, Asia and South America, but that may simply be due to a dearth of data for those regions.

Nobody seems to know what explains the reduced sperm counts. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the environment, such as BPA, may be one possible contributor. Studies are underway to try to determine the underlying factors. Men should pay attention, however. The authors note that “poor sperm count is associated with overall morbidity and mortality.”

Levine et al, Human Reproduction Update, July 25, 2017

In the novel, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, the premise was that fertility had been severely compromised. The book was written in 1985. More than 30 years later this loss of fertility seems more plausible than ever.

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  1. Greeley

    I’m a retired neuropsychiatrist and appreciate this site and article. I believe the cause to be our hyper-stressed life-styles and stress-filled “built” world. Animal crowding research has found stress suppresses reproduction by several mechanisms: increased violence and decreased effective parenting, decreased reproductive hormones due to increased stress hormones, and failure of offspring to survive. The stress hormones cortisol and CRH (cortico-tropin releasing hormone in the hypothalamus) have an inhibitory effect on GNRH (gonadotropic releasing hormone, also in the hypothalamus) and this reduces LH and FSH (pituitary hormones necessary for reproductive function). It’s all in the free e-book: “Stress R Us” online. You may want to mention the 100% decrease in fertility in the US over 34years: 8% in 1982, but 16.7% in 2016. I call this neuroendocrine effect “population density stress”. Only one-child families will take the pressure off and save the environment. Keep up the great work!

  2. Lolo
    Tellitlikeitisville, SC

    With soy (estrogen) being put into nearly EVERYTHING, is it really a mystery that sperm counts are down and guys have to have little blue pills to get it up?

  3. Kerry

    Hmmm, could this be the result of vaccinations, pesticides (monsanto), xray machines at airports and…in other words part of the depopulation agenda? It would be interesting to see how women’s reproductive organs are doing?

  4. Carol

    A urologist told me GMO soy in all the processed foods and medications are reducing sperm count.

  5. Ann

    Ever stop to think it is economy related and who wants to bring children into a world full of turmoil..???

    • Colin
      Los Angeles

      From a demographic marketing perspective, we have more single people than at any other time in the past. The last time we had such a high percentage of singles was during The Great Depression.

      The rate of first marriages is also higher now. My daughter was 33 when she first got married. Not uncommon today.

      In addition, we also have more young people living at home than at any other time in the past. My sister has a 30 year old and a 23 year old still living at home. Maybe Nature is just responding to the trends.

    • joy

      Not “wanting to have children because of the economy” is NOT going to reduce the sperm count!

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