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.”
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.