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Everything You Need to Know About the Sperm Apocalypse

Is this the end of sperm?

Men are producing lower sperm counts, and male fertility may be in a crisis that has been dubbed the “sperm apocalypse.”

GQ notes that the changes in sperm counts over the last few decades has been so dramatic, that there is a possibility the next generation will not be able to reproduce at all. The publication reports that researchers from Hebrew University and Mount Sinai medical school found that within the last four decades, sperm counts in the U.S., Europe, Australia, and New Zealand have fallen by over 50 percent. The research was insufficient to draw conclusions on men from other countries.

This research has been treated as an urgent wakeup call for men because they are half as fertile as the generation before them. Although the problem has been debated by scientists and researchers, it seems environment and lifestyle play an important role in why this is happening. Some of the reasons, according to New York Post, include the more sedentary lifestyle we have become accustomed to, and reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist Dr. Brian Levine says, “Lifestyle in 2017 is not the same as it was in 1967. We’re a lot more sedentary.” On the opposite end of the scale, extreme exercise can also affect sperm production.

Alcohol, tobacco and recreational drug use can lower the quality of sperm and damage the chances of fertilization. Tobacco, according to a reproductive specialist in St. Louis, Dr. Kenan Omurtag, affects the movement of sperm and can alter the shape.

Other issues include stress, clothing like skinny jeans which hold the scrotum close to the body, and food. According to New York Post, urologist Dr. David Shusterman says, “Sperm is losing its quality based on what we’re eating,” and this includes genetically modified substances and hormone-filled meats.

However, Vox offers some reassurance that men's reproduction capabilities are not done for just yet. The publication states that although average sperm count has dropped, it’s still within normal range. The publication also states that “front-line practitioners treating men” are not as convinced that men are experiencing a sperm apocalypse.

“If it were true [that sperm counts halved], in all the studies we do on normal young men, we’d see sperm concentrations of 30 million instead of 60 million,” hormone specialist Brad Anawalt told Vox. “We just don’t see that.”

[Image via Shutterstock / Christoph Burgstedt]

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