Population alarmists and anti-human environmentalists have long complained that there are too many humans. Although there are now over 8 billion people on the planet, the crisis humanity now faces is not one of overcrowding but of growing challenges to fecundity — the ability to be fruitful and multiply.
A new peer-reviewed study published this week in the journal "Human Reproduction Update" confirmed an alarming trend detailed by the same researchers in a groundbreaking 2017 meta-analysis: Sperm counts have been trending downward in men on every continent since 1973.
The researchers indicated that "this world-wide decline is continuing in the 21st century at an accelerated pace."
What does the study say?
The study was led by Dr. Hagai Levine of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Dr. Shanna Swan of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
They found in a previous study that between 1973 and 2011, sperm counts had declined "significantly."
This trend was "driven by a 50-60% decline among men" in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
Levine's team wrote at the time that "research on the causes of this continuing decline is urgently needed."
At the time of their original study, the researchers noted that "there were too few studies with data from South/Central America–Asia–Africa (SAA) to reliably estimate trends among men from these continents."
To ascertain whether this was indeed a global phenomenon, the researchers recently took advantage of another decade's worth of data, combining the findings from over 250 previous studies.
After analyzing additional studies and increasing their sample size (not including men already worried about their fertility), the researchers found that between 1973 and 2018, sperm counts "declined appreciably," not just in Western men, but in 53 countries across the world.
The sperm count decline has "become steeper since 2000," dropping by 1.4% per year and by 62.3% overall.
Factors and implications
The researchers stated that this is "now recognized as a significant public health concern," citing a group of leading clinicians and scientists who underscored both the "importance of male reproductive health for the survival of the human (and other) species" and that "decreased male fertility [is] a major public health problem."
Levine told the Times of Israel, "The trend of decline is both very real and appears to be accelerating."
If sperm concentration drops under 40 million per milliliter, then fertility begins to decline. Levine said that will occur within the next ten years. Additionally, Levine indicated that while current estimates have men, on average, posting counts above this figure, the number of men whose fertility is compromised has greatly increased.
"Our findings serve as a canary in a coal mine. We have a serious problem on our hands that, if not mitigated, could threaten humankind’s survival. We urgently call for global action to promote healthier environments for all species and reduce exposures and behaviors that threaten our reproductive health," Levine told the Times of Israel.
The Guardian reported that multiple factors can be at fault, such as endocrine-disrupting chemicals, smoking, drinking, obesity and poor diets.
The electronics men shove in their pockets may also be a contributing factor, even though the trend predates the cell phone's mass introduction by decades.
A 2014 study published in the "Central European Journal of Urology" revealed that a "correlation exists between mobile phone radiation exposure, DNA-fragmentation level and decreased sperm mobility."
According to a peer-reviewed 2022 Chinese study published in the international scientific journal "Reproduction, Fertility and Development," the "daily duration of mobile phone use may negatively affect sperm motility and impair male fertility."
In June, a study published in "Andrology" revealed that it wasn't just cell phones affecting semen parameters. Researchers found "a selective temporary decline of sperm concentration and total motile count 3 months" after men were given the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine.
Dr. Ranjith Ramasamy, director of male reproductive medicine at the University of Miami Health System, told Newsweek that the numbers were "statistically significant" and suggested that "larger studies are needed to definitively answer the question" of how profound an impact COVID-19 vaccines have on male fertility.
Dr. Richard Sharpe, a male reproductive health expert at the University of Edinburgh, told the Guardian, "These issues are not just a problem for couples trying to have kids. They are also a huge problem for society in the next 50-odd years as less and less young people will be around to work and support the increasing bulge of elderly folk."
While "links between sperm count and infertility are well-recognized," the drop is a signal of other health problems.
Dr. Swan noted that the "troubling declines in men’s sperm concentration and total sperm counts at over 1% each year as reported in our paper are consistent with adverse trends in other men’s health outcomes."
The study indicated that "the decline in sperm count is paralleled by declines in testosterone and increases in testicular cancer and male genital anomalies."
According to Swan, it's not just men who are affected. This decline corresponds also impacts female reproductive health.