We have all heard that environmental toxins and poor diet can have a negative impact on our health. Previous studies looked at the impact of diet and environment on cancer, diabetes, and other common ailments. Less data has been available on environmental impacts on fertility in general, and male fertility in particular.
New study shows – Sperm count has decreased
Now new data from a 38-year long study of sperm concentration in men living in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand shows a significant decline in male fertility as well.
The study, led by fertility experts at Hebrew University in Jerusalem with data from researchers around the world, shows that sperm concentration among men in western countries has declined by more than 50 percent between 1973 and 2011.
The study was published on Tuesday in the peer-reviewed journal Human Reproduction Update.
The study evaluated 43,000 men over a 38-year period, who were not selected because of prior fertility issues or concerns about sperm count.
It found a 52.4 percent decline in sperm concentration and a 59.3 percent decline in total sperm count. Furthermore, it seems that the rate of decline in male fertility is increasing- between 1996 and 2011, there was a decrease of about 1.4% a year. The study concluded that “the ongoing decline points to serious risks to male fertility and health.”
Should you be concerned about your sperm count?
In their report from 2015, ‘Trends of male factor infertility, an important cause of infertility: A review of literature.‘, Naina Kumar and Amit Kant Singh claim that:
“Infertility and problems of impaired fecundity have been a concern through ages and is also a significant clinical problem today, which affects 8–12% of couples worldwide. Of all infertility cases, approximately 40–50% is due to “male factor” infertility and as many as 2% of all men will exhibit suboptimal sperm parameters.”
So the short answer is that you shouldn’t be concerned, but you should be aware.
Many couples, when trying to conceive, focus on the women’s side of fertility treatments and tests which can be very intrusive and painful.
Testing men’s sperm quality and eliminating the possibility of them being the infertile partner out of the coupe, is fast and easy to do.
Also, men should be aware that even if their test shows they have low sperm quality – either due to low sperm motility, low count or sperm morphology, not all is lost.
Therefore it is more important than ever to test your sperm and take proactive measures to improve your sperm count.