sperm count decline

Frequently asked questions on the new sperm count decline study

Sperm counts are declining everywhere — the implications are huge.

What is happening with sperm counts?


This study shows, for the first time, that sperm counts are declining everywhere, not only in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, which was shown previously, but also in South America, Asia and Africa. This new analysis found that sperm count globally dropped by more than 50% between 1973 and 2018, and that the decline is accelerating: Since 1972, sperm count has dropped by about 1% each year. Since 2000, the annual decrease has been, on average, more than 2.6%.

What do lower sperm counts this mean for our health?

This accelerated decrease in global sperm counts means more people will need to use assisted reproduction to get pregnant. These findings imply more than decreased fertility; lower sperm counts are linked to more disease later in life (cardiovascular disease, diabetes and reproductive cancers) and a shorter life expectancy.

Why are sperm counts declining?

The decline is too rapid to be due to genetic causes alone. Some risk factors for lower sperm counts have to do with lifestyle; smoking, obesity, stress and binge drinking. In addition, environmental chemicals — particularly those that can alter the body’s hormones called endocrine disrupting chemicals (pesticides, phthalates, BPA, PFAS chemicals and others) — have been shown to reduce sperm counts and quality and are likely contributing to this decline.

What can be done about lower sperm counts?

While scientists continue to tease out the causes, men should avoid smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, excessive weight gain, drug and alcohol abuse, and potentially toxic chemicals. This means buying organic food when possible or washing fruits and vegetables that may have pesticide residues. Another good idea is avoiding plastics in food contact materials and personal care and household products that contain phthalates and other endocrine-disrupting compounds.

Read more about the new study: A new analysis shows a “crisis” of male reproductive health

Watch Dr. Shanna Swan discuss the work and implications

Extreme heat poses serious health risks to children, experts warn

With record-breaking heat waves sweeping the nation, researchers are highlighting the unique dangers that extreme temperatures pose to children.

Victoria St. Martin reports for Inside Climate News.

Keep reading...Show less
Senator Whitehouse & climate change

Senator Whitehouse puts climate change on budget committee’s agenda

For more than a decade, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse gave daily warnings about the mounting threat of climate change. Now he has a powerful new perch.
Amid LNG’s Gulf Coast expansion, community hopes to stand in its way
Coast Guard inspects Cameron LNG Facility in preparation for first LNG export in 2019. (Credit: Coast Guard News)

Amid LNG’s Gulf Coast expansion, community hopes to stand in its way

This 2-part series was co-produced by Environmental Health News and the journalism non-profit Economic Hardship Reporting Project. See part 1 here.Este ensayo también está disponible en español
Keep reading...Show less
30x30 environment goal
Credit: James Marvin Phelps/Flickr

President Biden's conservation efforts face uncertainty as Trump eyes return

President Biden's ambitious plan to conserve 30% of US land and water by 2030 is making progress, but a potential Trump return threatens these gains.

Oliver Milman reports for The Guardian.

Keep reading...Show less

Tornado hotspots shifting from Plains to Southeast, raising risks

A new study reveals tornado activity in the U.S. has moved from the Great Plains to the Southeast, increasing risks for denser populations and mobile home communities.

Matthew Cappucci reports for The Washington Post.

Keep reading...Show less

Supreme Court pressured by far-right groups to protect big oil

A campaign led by far-right fossil fuel allies is urging the Supreme Court to shield oil companies from lawsuits seeking billions in climate damages.

Dharna Noor reports for The Guardian.

Keep reading...Show less

Alabama residents endure lack of public water access for over a decade

In rural Marion County, Alabama, hundreds of households, including the McClungs, have been waiting for public water access for over a decade, relying on private wells to meet their daily needs.

Lee Hedgepeth reports for Inside Climate News.

Keep reading...Show less

Legislators in Pennsylvania push controversial carbon capture bill

Pennsylvania legislators are backing a contentious bill to establish a carbon capture industry, raising environmental and public health concerns.

Audrey Carleton reports for Capital & Main.

Keep reading...Show less
From our Newsroom
planetary health diet

This diet will likely keep you alive longer — and help the planet

New research finds the Planetary Health Diet lowers our risk to most major causes of death.

environmental justice

LISTEN: Jose Ramon Becerra Vera on democratizing science

“In their own way, they’re becoming experts, not just of their experiences but also of the data collection process.”

The oil and gas industry’s radioactive problem: Q&A with Justin Nobel

The oil and gas industry’s radioactive problem: Q&A with Justin Nobel

“Of all the levels of radium in produced water or brine around the world that I’ve looked at, I have encountered none that are consistently as high as what comes out of the Marcellus Shale.”

environmental justice pittsburgh

Environmental justice advocates find hope, healing and community in Pittsburgh

Advocates and researchers gathered to not only discuss ongoing fights but victories, self-care and cautious optimism about the path ahead.

air pollution pittsburgh

Amidst a controversial international sale, U.S. Steel falls behind in cleaner steelmaking

U.S. Steel’s proposed sale to Nippon Steel stokes concerns over labor rights and national security, all while the company continues to break clean air laws in Western Pennsylvania.

Stay informed: sign up for The Daily Climate newsletter
Top news on climate impacts, solutions, politics, drivers. Delivered to your inbox week days.