Health Medical

Sperm counts register a global decline: Study finds

Sperm count

HQ Team

November 16, 2022: Sperm counts globally are falling and reflect a global crisis related to the modern environment and lifestyles, according to a study.

The decline is accelerating after it was spotted five years ago by a global team led by Professor Hagai Levine of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Hadassah Braun School of Public Health. 

“Sperm count is not only an indicator of human fertility,” according to a statement from researchers released by EurekAlert!, a nonprofit news-release distribution platform operated by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“It also is an indicator of men’s health, with low levels being associated with increased risk of chronic disease, testicular cancer and a decreased lifespan,” the researchers said.

“Overall, we’re seeing a worldwide decline in sperm counts of over 50% in the past 46 years, a decline that has accelerated in recent years,” Levine said.


The study was conducted with the help of researchers from Denmark, Brazil, Spain, Israel and the US, and published the first meta-analysis to demonstrate declining sperm counts among men. The meta-analysis examined 223 studies based on the sperm samples from over 57,000 men across 53 countries.

The decline in sperm counts in North America, Europe, and Australia has continued and even accelerated in the 21st century “with broad implications for the survival of the human species.”

Researchers focused on sperm count trends among men in regions not reviewed previously, specifically South America, Asia and Africa.

“The data shows, for the first time, that men in those regions share the significant decline in total sperm counts (TSC) and sperm concentration (SC) seen previously in North America, Europe and Australia. 

Furthermore, this study shows an accelerated post-2000 decline in TSC and SC globally.”

While the study did not examine the causes of sperm count declines, Levine said recent research indicates that “disturbances” in the development of the reproductive tract during fetal life were linked to lifetime impairment of fertility and other markers of reproductive dysfunction.

`Canary in a coal mine’

“Lifestyle choices and chemicals in the environment are adversely affecting this fetal development,” Levine said. 

“Our findings serve as a canary in a coal mine. We have a serious problem on our hands that, if not mitigated, could threaten mankind’s survival,” he said.

Professor Shanna Swan, one of the world’s leading environmental and reproductive epidemiologists, said that low sperm counts do not only affect men’s fertility but have severe ramifications for men’s health.

The fall in the count has been linked to other adverse trends, termed testicular dysgenesis syndrome. 

“The troubling declines in men’s sperm concentration and total sperm counts at over 1% each year…are consistent with adverse trends in other men’s health outcomes, such as testicular cancer, hormonal disruption, and genital congenital disabilities. This clearly cannot continue unchecked,” she said.

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