Is There a Male Fertility Crisis?
Infertility is a common issue amongst people looking to start a family. It’s likely that you know a person or couple that has struggled with fertility issues. Discussions about fertility are more often than not centered around what women can do to combat their medical obstacles, but do men need to be concerned about the state of their fertility?
Some experts say they should definitely be part of the conversation. Dr. Shanna Swan, an environmental and reproductive epidemiologist at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, asserts that sperm counts have diminished significantly over the last four decades. This has sparked a lively discourse amongst reproductive experts over the years over the results of this study, as well as how environmental and lifestyle factors play into men’s health and fertility.
Her claim comes from a 2017 study that examined semen from over 40,000 men over a forty-year period. The study found that men in the Western hemisphere (North America, New Zealand, Australia, and Europe) had an average of 99 million per milliliter sperm in 1973; by 2011, it dropped 47.1 million per milliliter. According to this data, sperm count Western men has dropped by over 50%, with no end in sight.
The study’s findings certainly raise valid concerns, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of civilization as we know it. Standard methods for measuring sperm count were developed in the 1980s, well after Swan’s study began. It is possible that the sperm counts collected in the early stages of analysis were higher than the later years, which may account for the large discrepancy in the numbers. Additionally, though there does appear to be a clear decline in sperm count, overall the number provided is still much higher than the World Health Organization’s minimum of 15-20 million per milliliter sperm count to still be considered fertile.
Largely, low sperm count in individuals varies depending on biology, environmental factors, and lifestyle. Whether you choose to support Dr. Swan’s findings or those with doubts, the truth of the matter is, prioritizing your health is the biggest step you can take to preserve your fertility. Here are some tips to keep you in top reproductive health:
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Reduce alcohol intake
- Avoid smoking
- Stay active
- Keep stress at a minimum
When considering the idea of starting a family, fertility options may feel futile. However, there are many options for those who are unable to have a baby on their own. Whether it be egg donation, IVF, or sperm donation, there are wonderful ways to address your needs on your path to conception. Caring for yourself will improve your fertility and overall health, but if third-party reproduction is a viable option, talk to a specialist today to connect with the right people to map out your journey.