Scientists warn of sperm count crisis


The reproductive health of the average male is in sharp decline, the world’s largest study of the quality and concentration of sperm has found.

Between 1989 and 2005, average sperm counts fell by a third in the study of 26,000 men, increasing their risk of infertility. The amount of healthy sperm was also reduced, by a similar proportion.

The findings confirm research over the past 20 years that has shown sperm counts declining in many countries across the world. Reasons ranging from tight underwear to toxins in the environment have been advanced to explain the fall, but still no definitive cause has been found.

The decline occurred progressively hroughout the 17-year period, suggesting that it could be continuing.

The latest research was conducted in France but British experts say it has global implications. The scientists said the results constituted a “serious public health warning” and that the link with the environment “particularly needs to be determined”.

The worldwide fall in sperm counts has been accompanied by a rise in testicular cancer – rates have doubled in the last 30 years – and in other male sexual disorders such as undescended testes, which are indicative of a “worrying pattern”, scientists say.

Written By: Jeremy Laurance
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  1. Wondering if this will show up in population growth rates? And, if so, whether we should be pleased about that. Complex problems.

  2. In view of the damage to the planetary ecosystem caused by an exploding human population, I find this very good news, indeed.
     Ideal, in fact. Much better than a global epidemic, wouldn’t you say?

  3. I can’t help but feel sadness for all the people, men and women, who will discover that they are unable to have children because of their own or their partner’s infertility.

    The good of the planet (of which humans are a part, we mustn’t forget) might be served by the suffering of some unfortunate humans, but it would be served better (with less suffering for aware living things) by human moderation.

  4. Between 1989 and 2005, average sperm counts fell by a third in the study
    of 26,000 men, increasing their risk of infertility. The amount of
    healthy sperm was also reduced, by a similar proportion.

    Less competition between sperm, could mean fertilisations  by lower quality sperms in the less competitive situation and a poorer quality mix.  This could both diversify and weaken the population.

  5. Read in some Al Gore book that it was due to global warming, which I thought was bullshit. It found correlation when focusing on regions, and it was compelling data sets. He might be right, but the loose cause suggested made comparison with hermaphroditic frogs… or something like that.

    Personally, I suspect the very large doses of estrogen being consumed might have something to do with it. It is in packaged foods, bottled water, and a variety of environmental pollutants.

    I’d like the mods to know my loyalties, as I would love to troll this thread with an argument involving orthogenesis and boy-bands.

  6. It’s a great example of nature in action. It seems to be an
    ape obsession with apocalyptic conclusions to reproductive success, from tales
    of god sending his thugs to wipe out long-established civilized societies to
    the popular image of dinosaurs dying out suddenly but this is starting to look like
    a great example of nature redressing the balance at a micro level. The macro
    outcome may be, from a retrospective view, a cataclysmic end to such a huge
    species of ape from several billions to [future citation needed]. The species
    has in the blink of an eye increased its individual longevity by a factor of 3 or
    more and exponentially increased chances of achieving reproductive age while
    continuing to breed like Australopithecus.

    The changes the species has made to its environment to
    achieve this is the cause of a reduction of fertility, it’s almost like a
    god-like reaction to overbreeding (not the biblical god of course, his actions
    aren’t so subtle) that gives evolution an impression of intelligence so if this
    does cut the population as effectively as a pandemic it must be a good thing in
    the long run.

    In the short term, there will be suffering from more couples
    unable to conceive but eventually expectations will adjust to this (or
    technology will help those). In the medium term the suffering will be of older
    apes in well-off areas seeing their world changing as more jobs go to
    immigrants (from countries where religious fervour still compensates for
    reduced fertility) and the younger generation are generally taken up by
    immigration as the world’s population adjusts.

    In the long term, the species will be long-lived,
    reproducing primarily by choice with a very different view of the planet that
    we’re used to.

    That’s my utopian view, I’m sure it won’t turn out that way!

    In the meantime, I’m sure it won’t be long before this
    perfectly natural adjustment will be attributed to an angry pretend tribe
    leader. Many of us may laugh at the religious insistence that their stand
    against planned pregnancy/homosexuality/being a bit different is not bigotry but
    a genuine concern that the human race will die out in light of awkward
    statistics like population records but I bet it won’t be long before this will
    be treated as some sort of judgement leading to all sorts of hilarious circular
    reasoned arguments

  7. Fat, fat, everybody’s getting fat. Smoke pot and grow breasts. Eat food from plastic microwave dishes and grow breasts. Eat soy and grow breasts. Poor little guys don’t stand a chance.

  8. With over 6 billion people on the planet, a reduction in the ability to reproduce should not be considered totally bad.  But the cause needs to be found before it does reach the point that we cannot produce at the level to maintain the population.

  9. There also seems to be a clear connection between achievement, intellect, and fertility.  I’ll say no more.

  10. I cannot warm to the opinion that this is a good thing. Great meteorite strikes could decimate a population without too much suffering too, that doesn’t appeal to me either.

  11. Oh, there’s definitely a place for both- and mass starvation and war due to global warming…

  12. You need to read a lot more than Al Gore, my friend. A more open mind would help.too.

  13. And yet birth rates in the Islamic world are soaring; must be their loose underwear.

  14. At a guess^1 I would say this phenomenon is confined to countries where the reproductive rate is already low.  Gaia is not as smart as some are suggesting.  


    1 — does anyone know if this is correct ?

  15. It’s merely a suggestion by Mother Nature that it’s time to put the brakes on population growth.

  16. Interesting that the researcher thinks the most likely explanation for low fertility is that people eat too much saturated fat.

    Also interesting that the problem seems to have emerged over the approximate time period and locations over which people have been enthusiastically avoiding saturated fat, from around when ‘low fat’ foods and soy substitute products became mainstream marketing items in supermarkets.

    I find it hard to believe that the real problem might be the plastic containers that these toxic foods are packaged in.

    Perhaps a low sperm count it’s yet another of the many chronic illnesses associated with eating a low fat diet over the decades. There’s also now a growing problem with women failing to conceive owing to their low fat diets. And the problem might not be directly age related. Just time related, in that older people tend to have been eating low fat diets since the late 1990’s.

    Even worse, many have been feeding their kids the same. Those kids are now failing to produce grand-children. Seeing as grand-children are a more accurate indicator of true fertility than merely having children then the infertile people’s parents have effectively sterilised themselves. The result showing up in the 2nd generation.

    Maybe the recommendation to eat a low saturated fat diet is for the purpose of completely eliminating future sperm counts, as a means of proving that the lack of dietary fat is the underlying cause. Plus contributing to mitigating climate change.

    If it doesn’t work then plan B is to continue to print trillions in monetary certificates, bank credit, and other legal tender on the reasonable assumption that the lack of exponential growth in these monetary tokens otherwise causes low house prices, insufficiently profitable loan portfolios, lack of investment booms, poverty and economic instability. While they’ve got the printers working they could also generate trillions of university degree certificates in science and medicine, and pass laws compelling people to take those bearing the certificates seriously. If that doesn’t work to fix climate change and fertility then the ensuing global economic collapse should also produce a fairly significant global population crash. Either way dangerous climate change might be mitigated.

  17.  I think that’s incorrect (recalling old data on Africa’s sperm count), though googling for a source all I could find was France stands out. Amusingly I see some blaming WiFi… just one more thing sperm have in common with bees. I suspect the Demographic Winter crowd would be raising hell if you were correct (maybe they are).

    Gaia indeed. I might still have to construct an orthogenesis argument for this.

  18.  wow, did you have anything other than seemingly random, unqualified insults for me?

  19.  Soy, interesting. Not all estrogenic dietary changes are ‘unnatural’. That’s it, goddamit. I’m making an orthogenesis argument.

    The domesticated Siberian foxes, engineered in secret by a Soviet scientist (lest he be found out by the Lamarkian regime), developed cute traits, or rather retained juvenile characteristics into adulthood. Retaining such traits involves inhibition of adrenaline, which influences testosterone levels. As we evolve along this trajectory, towards a state resembling the childlike race of Jules Verne’s The Time Machine, naturally we would have lower sperm counts.

    “Woman is the future of man.”-Milan Kundera

  20. There’s a very interesting link to the side of your reference on laptops.

    Cause Of Unexplained Infertility Discovered For 80% Of Couples:

    It seems that the major problem in total infertility in couples, combining females with ovulation problems, is male sperm with significant DNA damage. Infertility in couples was previously mostly blamed on women. So now it’s known that the male is the main cause.

    The only outstanding question is exactly how the damage to sperm DNA is happening. My guess is glycation as a result of people who foolishly consume what they’ve been told is a healthy diet. That might cause a degree of failure in the mechanisms that maintain DNA integrity in the gamete. You need both an environmental cause of damage (e.g. laptop computers, tight underwear etc.) plus the double impact of something which impedes the detection and repair process. So there may be multiple contributing causes. 

    But might only need to fix one of them to improve the outcome.

    I saw a recent doc posted on YouTube from the mid 1980s. “The Sugar Trap”:

    Might be a clue in there.

  21. I’ve been parking the LC on my crotch (due to my position it is more on my crotch and abdomen than lap) for about 10 years and fathered two girls in the last 3 years. Perhaps lower sperm count is our ticket out of this population crisis. Lower population, lower demand, lower production, lower pollution.

  22. Tim Ferris was able to double his sperm count by simple measures, like not wearing a cellphone in a pocket, and taking selenium supplements. For women he recommends getting rid of gluten in a diet, and eating more saturated fat.

    This is of course only the tip of an iceberg. A man definitely should avoid estrogen-mimicking substances, like those in plastics (BPA), pesticides, soy. Appropriate levels of vitamin D, K, A should be assured. Low level of body fat is important for men’s fertility, while women shouldn’t go very low (10% may be detrimental to female fertility).

    So basically this problem can be alleviated by easy means.

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