Sperm Counts Have Dropped More Than 50 Percent In Western Countries

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Sperm Counts Have Dropped More Than 50 Percent In Western Countries
Photo © vchalup – fotolia.com

In the past two decades, regional differences in sperm quality have been reported by several studies. A European study showed that Danish men had a higher concentration of sperm than their Finnish counterparts. Published in the journal Human Reproduction, the study offered data that could serve as a reference for future studies on time trends in semen quality in Europe. [1] The first research to compare semen quality of fertile American males was conducted in 2003 and was published in Environmental Health Perspectives. The study found reduced sperm concentration in men living in semirural and agricultural areas than those who reside in urban and less agriculturally exposed areas. [2]

Data from the previous studies above could have served as sources for a recent meta-analysis that revealed a shocking truth about male health and fertility; the decline of sperm counts in men from rich countries including the U.S., Germany, Australia and New Zealand.

The meta-analyses brought together various studies and pointed to a potential decline in male health. It attributed the falling sperm counts in the West to broader health risks caused by various lifestyle factors such as smoking, stress, obesity, poor diets and pesticide exposure. The researchers published their findings in the journal Human Reproduction. [3]

A team of scientists from the U.S., Israel, Brazil, Denmark, and Spain gathered and processed an enormous amount of data from the findings of 185 studies on sperm counts that were carried out between 1973 and 2011. The covered studies involved a total of more than 52,000 men in 50 countries. The team conducted a so-called meta-regression analysis and collected the following major findings:

• North American, European, Australian, and New Zealand men registered a 52.4 percent decline in sperm concentration and a 59.3 drop in total sperm count

• No significant decline was observed in South America, Asia, and Africa

• The decline in sperm count does not appear to be abating

Male fertility experts commended the researcher’s systematic review of the literature. According to Enrique Schisterman of the National Institutes of Health, the findings presented by the meta-analysis confirmed what he and other health experts have been suspecting for some time that the decline in sperm counts is a recognized phenomenon for over a half-decade.

One of the culprits identified by the study’s authors is exposure to manmade chemicals which could have hurt the reproductive function of Western men. An international study supports this hypothesis, revealing the link between a chemical – trichloroethylene (TCE) and male infertility. This study first appeared in the journal Drug Metabolism and Disposition. [4]

TCE is a volatile substance used extensively in automotive and metalwork industries as a de-greasing agent. It is also found in adhesives, lubricants, paints, varnishes, paint strippers, pesticides, spot removers and rug cleaning fluids, and has been detected in both underground and surface water sources. This is a nasty chemical: TCE has been connected to liver, kidney and lung damage, Parkinson’s Diease and heart defects and is listed by the EPA as a known carcinogen. [5] And yet, it continues to be used. The National Toxicology Program in the U.S. has estimated that 3.5 million workers are exposed to the chemical in the workplace. This number does not take into consideration environmental exposure.

Smoking is another factor cited by the 2017 study. Previous studies have connected smoking to male infertility and pregnancy rates. An evidence-based review conducted in 2015 affirmed the effects of cigarettes on semen analyses. The paper advised men to abstain from smoking to improve their reproductive health. [6]

A well-balanced diet is important for healthy sperm. Consumption of foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids could help men improve their sperm count and sperm concentration. This was confirmed by a study of 99 men conducted at Harvard Medical School.

The negative outcome of poor diet on sperm count was the topic of a 2011 study done by doctors from Harvard University and the University of Murcia. They warned that men who feast on pizza, chips, and crisps have a higher probability of being infertile. They found out that men who had a diet of trans fats — an ingredient found in processed foods were more likely to have less healthy sperm. They stressed the importance of having a diet rich in fish, fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. [7]

Note – the presence of Tricholoroethylene in water sources is another reason to invest in a high quality water filter. We researched and found that the amazing Berkey Filters (available on Amazon here) remove TCE to below laboratory detectable limits (along with a huge number of other toxins!)


[1] Jørgensen N et al. May 2001. Regional differences in semen quality in Europe. https://academic.oup.com/humrep/article/16/5/1012/2913506/Regional-differences-in-semen-quality-in-Europe

[2] Swan SH et al. 2003. Geographic differences in semen quality of fertile U.S. males. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1241421/

[3] Levine H et al. July 25, 2017. Temporal trends in sperm count: a systematic review and meta-regression analysis. https://academic.oup.com/humupd/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/humupd/dmx022

[4] Queen’s University. “Common Industrial Chemical Now Linked To Male Infertility; Chemical Adversely Affects The Normal Development Of Sperm.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 March 2003. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/03/030307071845.htm

[5] Wikipedia – Tricholoroethylene. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trichloroethylene

[6] Kovac JR et al. April 2015. Postgraduate Medicine. The Effects of Cigarette Smoking on Male Fertility. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4639396/

[7] Sadie Whitelocks. October 19, 2011. Hold the fries! Men who eat junk food are more likely to be infertile. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2050910/Men-eat-junk-food-likely-infertile.html#ixzz4r2dFMkFP

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