While most discussions about fertility largely center on women’s health, a new comprehensive study shows that male reproductive health should be included in the conversation as well. The findings suggest sperm counts may have declined, particularly in Western countries, by as much as 50 percent over 40 years — but researchers aren’t really sure why.
For the study, which was published in the journal Human Reproduction Update, an international team of researchers analyzed 185 studies involving 43,000 men across the world between 1973 and 2011. The team found a 52.4 percent decrease in sperm concentration — and a 59.3 percent decline in overall sperm count — in men from North America, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe. However, no significant decline was observed in men from South America, Asia, and Africa, although researchers noted that there have been far fewer studies conducted in those regions.