Fertility Crisis: Men are Running out of Sperm Due to ‘Environmental Factors’

The past 15 years have been tough on sperm cells. Research shows that men are running out of the little swimmers, and the number of men seeking infertility treatment has increased 7-fold while the quality of their sperm has plummeted. This could be more than a slight problem for humanity.

Diving into this issue more, lead researcher Dr. Ashley Tiegs and her colleagues analyzed sperm samples from fertility centers in the U.S. and Spain between 2002 and 2017.

She said:

“Total motile sperm count has shown to be more productive of outcomes for pregnancy. It’s also been correlated with embryo development and expansion routes. We wanted to know if total motile sperm count was affected and if it is declining, then what are the implications?”

During the study period, sperm counts dropped and the number of men seeking infertility treatment soared from 8,000 to 60,000, the researchers observed. The study also found an increase in the rate of male-related IVF (in-vitro fertilization) cases.

The average age of men seeking treatment was 36.

Tiegs said:

“We weren’t expecting to find that, that the trend of sperm count declining has real treatment implications.”

Read: 3 Reasons the French Sperm Count Dropped by 1/3 in 17 Years

Iin 2017, researchers at Hebrew University and the Icahn School of Medicine released data showing a 59% decrease in sperm counts since 1973.

A total motile sperm count of over 20 million is considered normal by experts. Men with a total motile sperm count of between 0 and 5 million generally have to undergo IVF treatment if they want to conceive.

Tiegs linked the disturbing decrease in sperm count and quality to “environmental factors, like plastics and smoking and obesity.”

“We know obesity is on the rise, and it does affect sperm quality. It increases the risk of morbidity and mortality, but it can also affect offspring, too.”

For example, bisphenol-A (BPA), a chemical found in plastics, delivers a double-whammy in that it increases the risk of infertility in both males and females, and it has even been linked to obesity (which is also not helpful for fertility). Even more disturbing is the fact that BPA exposure during pregnancy can lead to fertility issues in male offspring.

Of course there are numerous other factors. You can do your best to avoid exposure to chemicals by avoiding plastics, buying organic foods, not smoking, choosing more natural household cleaners, and more.


[1] New York Post

Commonly-Used Household Chemicals Damage Sperm in Men, Dogs

The couch you sit on, the carpets you walk on, and even some of your kids’ toys may pose health risks due to the chemicals they are made with. In some of the latest research, it was found that a commonly-used household chemical known as DEHP may be harming fertility not only for men – but also for dogs.

The chemical DEHP – used in carpets, flooring, upholstery, clothes, wires and toys – and the industrial chemical polychlorinated biphenyl 153 (PCB153), may harm male fertility in humans and dogs, researchers from the University of Nottingham found. And even though PCB153 is banned worldwide, it remains widely detectable in the environment. In fact, both chemicals have been found in commercially-available dog food. [2]

Laboratory tests with sperm taken from male humans and dogs showed levels of the 2 chemicals consistent with environmental exposure reduced sperm motility and increased fragmentation of DNA in both species.

Scientists have established that poor human sperm motility leads to increased DNA fragmentation in both men and dogs, which increases the likelihood of male infertility.

The findings are especially concerning in light of previous studies that show a 50% decline in human sperm quality worldwide in the past 8 decades. Another study by the same group of researchers showed a similar decline in dogs, which suggests that household chemicals are at least partly to blame. [1]

Study leader Richard Lea said in a university news release:

“This new study supports our theory that the domestic dog is indeed a ‘sentinel’ or mirror for human male reproductive decline, and our findings suggest that man-made chemicals that have been widely used in the home and working environment may be responsible for the fall in sperm quality reported in both man and dog that share the same environment.”

Lea added:

“Our previous study in dogs showed that the chemical pollutants found in the sperm of adult dogs, and in some pet foods, had a detrimental effect on sperm function at the concentrations previously found in the male reproductive tract.”

The new study is the first to test the effect of DEHP and PCB153 on both human and dog sperm in the lab, in real-world concentrations.

The scientists think there is a good chance that location determines the extent to which males are affected by the chemicals. This is because the chemicals are a large part of Western industries. Previous studies have been unable to find the same sperm decline in men and dogs living in Asia, Africa, or South America, which suggests the problem is a predominantly Western one. [2]

As well, other factors may be involved in the declining sperm quality of men and pups, such as air pollution and obesity. Still, it’s reasonable to conclude that since men and dogs are exposed to household contaminants at the same levels, those contaminants are likely affecting their sperm.

Lea said:

“Demonstrating such effects of chemicals at environmental concentrations raises awareness of these pollutants, and my hope is this will lead to steps in our personal lives to reduce or at least limit further exposures.”

The study appears in the journal Scientific Reports.


[1] HealthDay

[2] Inverse