The developed countries of the western sphere of the globe may be confronted by a "sperm crisis" that has resulted from a steep drop in the reproductive cell over the past 40 years, findings of a recent study showed.
The sperm concentration, or sperm count, which measures the concentration of sperm in a man's ejaculate, has "halved" among male members of society in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, said the study led by Hagai Levine of Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The results are published in Human Reproduction Update.
The research bases its analysis on the data collected from 185 sperm studies that were conducted worldwide during the period from 1973 throughout to 2011 involving 42,935 men.
The results show a sperm concentration decline by 52.4% between 1973 and 2011. A similar trend is spotted for the total sperm count, which is the sperm count multiplied with the semen volume, which plummeted by 59.3% over the same period.
Dr. Levine, who is an epidemiologist and authored the study, described the results as a "shocking and classic under the radar huge public health problem that is really neglected."
"When we restricted the analysis to studies after 1995, we found no sign that the decline is leveling off," said Dr. Levine.
Despite the shocking analysis outcomes, the study does not identify the causes for the decline but offers "plausible" reasons behind the issue.
"Sperm count has been plausibly associated with multiple environmental and lifestyle influences, both prenatally and in adult life. In particular, endocrine disruption from chemical exposures or maternal smoking during critical windows of male reproductive development may play a role in prenatal life, while lifestyle changes and exposure to pesticides may play a role in adult life," said the published report.