A new study that appeared in the recent July 25 issue of the journal Human Reproduction Update, reveals a concerning evidence of decrease in sperm count of about 50%.
The study exposes that the decrease is found mostly in the Western countries in the past few years affecting the decline in the male reproductive health.
In the research involving about 143,000 males, with data gathered from 185 studies, experts concluded that there has been an average decrease of about 52% in the concentration of sperm. There is about 59% in total sperm count between the years 1973 and 2011. The conclusion shows a strong, significant and steady decrease in the sperm counts.
According to the study, there has been no positive improvement over the years in the counts since the publish of the original study in the year 1992 that showed the 50% decrease in over 50 years. The decrease has steadily remained at about 50% even after over 25 years. The data didn’t even show a level-off in 5 or 10 years.
The steady decline has alarmed the researchers. They stressed that the decrease in the counts does not only affect the ability of the males to impregnate but also makes them prone to different serious illnesses like cardiovascular diseases and cancer. The low sperm count affects a man’s general health status and mortality is shortened in some cases.
Shanna Swan, a professor working for environmental medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. She has actively participated in the study as a senior researcher gave statements on how they have conducted the study.
Professor Swan says that they have based their conclusion from the information they have gathered from different western continents like Europe, North America, North America. Data from New Zealand and Australia are also included in the research.
However, they have limited their study on Western countries only. Swans says that they couldn’t draw the same conclusions from men in non-western countries since they weren’t able to obtain much data from those parts of the world.
The concern on the general health status of the males has given the study a much greater significance to discover the real causes of the decrease which seems to originate and root from the lifestyle of the modern male.
Swan also says that the environment contributes to the decrease of their sperm count. Some factors that were determined are exposure to man-made chemicals, increased levels of stress, widespread obesity, poor nutrition, lack of physical exercise and smoking.
In the modern society, people are often exposed or engaged to these elements without knowing the weight of the danger they may cause to one’s health.
The study also reveals that one of the greatest factors of the problem seems to develop as early as in the time of conception. Smoking while in pregnancy has been noted as one of the major causes of producing male offspring with low sperm count.
However, all experts like Dr. Avner Hershlag, chief of Northwell Health Fertility in Manhasset, New York, do not agree that having lower sperm count would actually make an impact on male fertility in the future. He emphasized that fertility doesn’t only depend on sperm count.
Hershlag says that modern men still have 66.4 million sperm per milliliter of semen, compared nearly four years before with 92.8 million per milliliter from men. About 20% of those who haven’t received treatment have abnormal sperm also achieved pregnancy successfully with their partners.
According to Dr. Hershlag, the female egg only needs just one sperm to fertilize. He admits there is nothing to be concerned about having lower sperm count. There is no proof that shows that the decline in sperm count is parallel to the true ability of males to impregnate or produce offspring.
On the other hand, Dr. Peter Schlegel, a professor of reproductive medicine and urologist-in-chief for New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City expresses another point. He said that if the sperm count will continue to decline, it could create an impact in the reproductive health of men in the long run.
He states that the research is not yet scientifically proven by the experts. However, he admitted that low sperm count may also potentially lower sperm quality. Many people may seek and require professional help for further fertility treatment. Lower sperm count lowers the capacity to fertilize eggs which may also affect the quality of the embryo produced.
Dr. Schlegel aims to do further research to provide more information and recommendations on how to improve the decreasing sperm count.