Sperm counts have plunged by nearly 60 per cent in just 40 years among men living in the West, according to a major review of scientific studies that suggests the modern world is causing serious damage to men’s health.
Pesticides, hormone-disrupting chemicals, diet, stress, smoking and obesity have all been “plausibly associated” with the problem, which is associated with a range of other illnesses such as testicular cancer and a generally increased mortality rate.
The researchers who carried out the review said the rate of decline had showed no sign of “levelling off” in recent years.
The same trend was not seen in other parts of the world such as South America, Africa and Asia, although the scientists said fewer studies had been carried out there.
One expert commenting on the study said it was the “most comprehensive to date”, and described the figures as “shocking” and a “wake-up call” for urgent research into the reasons driving the fall.
Writing in the journal Human Reproduction Update, the researchers – from Israel, the US, Denmark, Brazil and Spain – said total sperm count had fallen by 59.3 per cent between 1971 and 2011 in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand. Sperm concentration fell by 52.4 per cent.