Significant Sperm Count Decline in Western Men, Says Study

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But Dr. Levine found a decrease in both sperm concentration and sperm count by more than 50%, indicating that the rate at which decreases is continuous.

Researchers assessing the results of almost 200 separate studies say sperm counts among men from these areas seem to have halved in less than 40 years.

The results, published in the journal Human Reproduction Update, showed a 52.4 per cent decline in sperm concentration and a 59.3 per cent decline in total sperm count among North American, European, Australian and New Zealand men.

Hagai Levine, lead researcher of the study, said in an interview with BBC that he was "very anxious " about what might happen in the future.

Working with a team of researchers in the United States, Brazil, Denmark, Israel and Spain, Levine screened and brought together the findings of 185 sperm count studies from 1973 to 2011 and then conducted a so-called meta-regression analysis.

"Eventually we may have a problem, and with reproduction in general, it may be the extinction of the human species", Levine said.

Also, as a research-reviewer for the Great Britain's National Health Service noted, "Although the study did report a dramatic-sounding decline in average sperm count from 92.8 million/ml to 66.4 million/ml, this is still well within the range needed to conceive".

He added: "If we will not change the ways that we are living and the environment and the chemicals that we are exposed to, I am very anxious about what will happen in the future".

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While declines in sperm count have been reported since 1992, the question has remained controversial because of limitations in past studies.

No significant decline was found among men living in South America, Asia or Africa, although far fewer studies were done in those areas of the world.

Although the researchers admit there might be a small deficiency in their study, Prof.

"However, the study today by Dr Levine and his colleagues deals head-on with numerous deficiencies of previous studies". "Because of the significant public health implications of these results, research on the causes of this continuing decline is urgently needed", the study's authors write.

But Prof Pacey believes that although the new study has reduced the possibility of errors it does not entirely remove them.

"However, the paper does represent a step forward in the clarity of the data which might ultimately allow us to define better studies to examine this issue".

There is no clear reason for the apparent decrease. In addition, the meta-analysis looked only at sperm count and concentration, and not at sperm quality, which also affects fertility. It is assumed though that it has to do with obesity, stress, diet, smoking, watching TV (yes, even that) and contact with chemicals that are used in plastics.


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