Why Western men have suffered a 50% decline in sperm count over four decades

Sperm counts — measured by sperm concentration or total sperm count — declined by 1.4% per year on average among men from North America, Europe and Australia between 1973 and 2011, a new study published in the journal Human Reproductive Health found. Overall, sperm counts fell between 50% and 60% over those 38 years, with no evidence of a leveling off in recent years. This significant decline in male reproductive health “has serious implications beyond fertility concerns,” it concluded. The researchers analyzed samples from nearly 43,000 men from 185 studies.

“This is a wake-up call to study the causes of this decline, aiming to prevent further deterioration,” says Hagai Levine, the lead researcher and faculty member of the Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine at Hebrew University-Hadassah in Jerusalem.

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