Global average sperm count has more than halved since 1973

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Global average sperm count has more than halved since 1973

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The global average sperm count decreased over 50% in the last 49 years, adding to concerns some have regarding the depopulation on Earth.

Sperm counts and sperm concentration have been decreasing over the course of nearly 50 years, going down by 1.2% every year from 1973 through 2000. This annual decrease jumped to 2.6% yearly from 2000 through 2018, a pace described as “amazing” by Hagai Levine, who worked on the research for Oxford Academic.

“We don’t understand why we’re seeing this pattern, so I think it’s hard to be alarmist for an individual,” said Dr. Michael Eisenberg, a urologist who was not involved in the study, according to USA Today. “But at a policy level, this should be a wake-up call to try and understand.”

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Levine said he believes that this decrease in the global sperm count could affect families, claiming that people living in the United States may need more time to have children. He also pointed to Israel, where some may be unable to have the 10 or more children they often desire due to infertility.

While it is unclear why the sperm count across the world is going down, Amy Sparks, a reproductive physiologist who was also not involved in the research, said she believes that it is not decreasing enough to be concerning for the human population, pointing to how lifestyle changes over the last 50 years could be affecting sperm count.

“Lifestyles have changed,” she said. “Dietary patterns certainly have changed. Through these changes, we are exposing our body to altered conditions. In response to those altered conditions, we’re seeing a decrease in sperm concentration.”

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The world population reached 8 billion people on Monday, marking “a momentous milestone for humanity,” Natalia Kanem, executive director of the U.N. Population Fund, told reporters in October. The United Nations had predicted in July that the world population would reach this milestone by November, according to Axios.

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