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Male fertility declining in west

Wednesday July 26th, 2017

The average sperm count in Western countries is falling - and may continue to fall, researchers have warned.

Dr Hagai Levine of the Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Jerusalem, Israel, and colleagues analysed figures from around the world. They looked in detail at 185 studies carried out between 1973 and 2011.

This showed a 52.4% drop in sperm concentration, and a 59.3% drop in total sperm count, among men from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. However, no decline was seen in men from South America, Asia and Africa, although far fewer studies have been carried out in these countries.

Dr Levine and colleagues warn in yesterday's (25 July) Human Reproduction Update that these findings "have serious implications beyond fertility and reproduction, given recent evidence linking poor semen quality with higher risk of hospitalisation and death."

They call for urgent research on the causes of this ongoing decline in sperm health. Dr Levine says: "Given the importance of sperm counts for male fertility and human health, this study is an urgent wake-up call for researchers and health authorities around the world to investigate the causes of the sharp ongoing drop in sperm count, with the goal of prevention."

Co-author Dr Shanna Swan added: "Decreasing sperm count has been of great concern since it was first reported twenty-five years ago. This definitive study shows, for the first time, that this decline is strong and continuing. The fact that the decline is seen in Western countries strongly suggests that chemicals in commerce are playing a causal role in this trend."

Levine, H. et al. Temporal trends in sperm count: A systematic review and meta-regression analysis. Human Reproduction Update 25 July 2017, doi: 10.1093/humupd/dmx022

Tags: Men's Health | World Health

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