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Sperm Quality Is Declining
Around the World

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April 24, 2014, last updated September 6, 2014

By A.Lee and Editors, MangoBoss

This is either the biggest worldwide mystery, hiding in
plain sight or the new "inconvenient truth". Sperm quality
is declining among young men all over the world.  Sperm
quality is declining in the United States (1.5% a year), the
United Kingdom (3% per year), Australia (3%), in certain
Northern European countries (Denmark and other
Scandinavian countries except Sweden) and in Japan.

Why is sperm quality declining? Does the decline in sperm
quality have anything to do with exposure to
environmental toxins?  How does the decline in sperm
quality affect your health?

What Exactly Is "Sperm Quality"?

Scientists measure the quality of your sperm in 4 ways:

-total amount of live sperm in a given amount
-how active or “motile” the sperm is
-total volume of sperm in your ejaculation
-total volume of your ejaculation

Where is Sperm Declining?

In the United States, various studies have found that the
quality of sperm has steadily declined for 50 years. A 2000
study led by Dr. Shanna Swan of the University of Missouri’
s Department of Family and Community Medicine   
confirmed what other studies had discovered --- the
concentration of sperm had mysteriously declined in
American men by 1.5% per year for a 50 year period.  
Moreover, the Missouri study was able to eliminate certain
factors which could have caused the decline --- the
amount of time the men had abstained from sex, their age,
fertility problems or problems in how the sperm samples
were collected.

Sperm quality is also declining in the United Kingdom. A
1996 study from the Centre for Reproductive Biology in
Edinburgh discovered  “evidence of deteriorating semen
quality in the United Kingdom”. That study examined 577
men in Scotland over an 11 year period.

Let’s look at the numbers. In the UK study, the median
sperm concentration for men born before 1959 was  98
million per milliliter.  But for men born after 1970, the
median sperm concentration fell to 78 million per milliliter.  
That’s a dramatic spiral downward of 20 million sperm per
milliliter, a decline of 20.4%.

Here’s more. For men in the UK born before 1959, the
total number of sperm in their ejaculation was 301 million.
But for men born after 1970, the total number of sperm in
their ejaculation load was 214 million.  That’s a drop of 87
million sperm per ejaculation load, a decline of 28.9% for
an average ejaculation load.

Finally, again in the UK, the total number of sperm which
were alive and  swimming –“motile” dropped from 169
million per ejaculation load to 129 million per ejaculation
load, a drop of 40 million live ones per load, a 23.66%

In sum, for the UK, the researchers found declines in the
number of total sperm in the load, the total number of live,
swimming sperm and the average amount of sperm per
milliliter ( a milliliter is approximately 20% of a teaspoon).

Where else is sperm quality declining? A 2013 study from
France found “ a decline in semen concentration and
morphology in a sample of 26,609 men close to general
population between 1989 and 2005 in France”.  In Italy, a
1999 study discovered “a decline in seminal fluid in the
Italian population during the past 15 years”. In Denmark,
researchers discovered “Sperm motility deteriorated, as
the spermatozoa in 74.2% of the samples were of
excellent motility in 1977-1980 compared to only 41.9% in

Studies which have compared semen quality across Europe
have found that men in Germany, Denmark and Norway
have the worst semen quality. At the other end, men from
Estonia, Lithuania and Sweden have the highest semen
quality, according to a 2002 study from the Department of
Growth and Reproduction, Rigshospitalet, The Juliane
Marie Centre, Copenhagen in Denmark.

The drumbeat of news about declining sperm quality has
now become so loud that researchers have now focused
on the most important question --- what the heck is going

Why Is Sperm Quality Declining Around the World?

Here’s the rub.  There is no dispute that in many areas of
the world, scientists have measured significant declines in
sperm quality over time. No doubt.

But where there is disagreement is the question of “why”.  

Among the candidate theories to explain the decline in
sperm quality, the one which has attracted the most
controversy is the role of environmental toxins.  Certain
toxins in the environment have the ability to disrupt the
endocrine systems of animals, fogs, lab rats and

But establishing a string direct, link between endocrine
disruptors and sperm quality decline has not been
successful.  The studies which have looked at the question
split both ways, with some studies concluding that sperm
quality has deteriorated as a result of exposing men
throughout their lives to  chemicals such as bisphenol A,
Ochratoxin A, PVBs and dioxins around municipal waste
incinerators, among others.  

This theory has an intuitive “ring of truth” to it, when you
look at our lifetime exposure of chemicals.  

So ubiquitous are chemicals that we are literally bathed in
chemicals throughout our lives, from the time we swim
around in our mother's wombs.  We are enveloped in
airborne chemicals sprayed to control insects, to sanitize,
ground soil chemicals from water runoff from mining,
chemical plants and urban development, household
chemicals sprayed and applied to control bacteria, smells
or to grow perfect lawns,  body chemicals applied to smell
attractive, chemicals in toothpaste, in hair products,
fertilizers still clinging to our vegetables in the supermarket
aisles, in fruit skins, injected into chicken and cattle to
fatten them up faster…you get the picture.

Some studies have in fact tied, in a loose way, the
incidence of exposure to these toxins to a decline in sperm

For example, in 2013, doctors from France (Biologie du
Développement et de la Reproduction and CECOS Franche-
Comté Bourgogne, University Hospital of Besançon,
Besançon, France) found that men who lived near a
municipal waste processing center were showing sperm
abnormalities.  As the lead researcher, Dr. A.C. Faure
concluded, “Our results suggest an effect of chronic
exposure to dioxins on spermiogenesis with more

Now, the opposing camp essentially says there has not
been enough proof of a connection.   They also point out
that the declines in sperm quality have not stopped the
ability of humans to reproduce, since the global population
has increased from 5.8 billion to 7 billion during the time
frame under study.  That's true.

But, and we think this is the important point, the
disbelievers have never been able to give an alternative
reason that would fully explain the decline in sperm quality
in so many countries. Of course, we humans can still
reproduce with less sperm --it only takes one, after all.

And we ought to be concerned when the evidence shows
that we're losing 20 million of the little fish over a period
of decades and the trend is pointing straight down.

Because, the fact remains, sperm quality
is declining ---
just saying that ought to make us scared as a species ---
and, in the absence of an alternative theory, the tenuous
link between environmental toxins and the decline in
sperm quality seems the most believable explanation.

Besides, in the countries where there have been drops in
sperm quality, there  have been parallel increases in
testicular cancer, so, for that reason alone, the scientific
community needs to care about this issue more.

Sure, much more research is needed.  And the studies
need to be made in the same season of the year –since
sperm quality varies seasonally – and among the same
group of men over at least a 10 year period.

But, in the meantime, protect your gems, men.  Stay as far
away from the chemicals suspected of endocrine
disruption as you can.

Where are Endocrine Disruptors Found?

Bisphenol A is one of the main endocrine disruptors.
According to the FDA, Bisphenol A is a chemical used to
make a hard, clear plastic known as polycarbonate.  If you
handle plastic bottles or cans, you probably have come in
contact with BPAs.  

BPA is found in plastics, canned foods, sports water
bottles and baby cups. The National Toxicology Program
has expressed “some concern for effects on the brain,
behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and
children at current human exposures to bisphenol A”.   
Note the inclusion of prostate glands in male fetuses.  

BPA is also found on cash register receipts. It is what
makes the receipts feel slick.

So, this gives us yet another reason to recommend that
men stop eating their vegetables from cans.  Look at the
cans you buy. Check to see if the can contains BPA. If it
does, skip it. Try buying fresh vegetables as much as you

As for water bottles, try to use glass. That’s a hard one,
given how ubiquitous plastic water bottles are. But, again,
it’s worth it to just cut back as much as you can. Look for
the labels to see if any of the bottles you buy has BPA and,
again, if it does, dump it, and find an alternative.
Your little fish will thank you for it.

Heads up:  As is the case with our article on the alarming
drop in testosterone levels globally, we will stay on top of
the scientific evidence as it comes in, and we will update
this article with any news, positive or negative.

At some point, this kind of evidence, if proven, has got to
spur research and mobilize the global human community
just as much as it has now been mobilized to fight breast
cancer and other diseases.

Every good mystery
compels thinking people to seek
answers, just as a great elusive fish draws skilled
fishermen.  And this may just be the Moby Dick of all

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