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Male Fertility Crisis

Obesity, smoking and exposure to plastics are to blame for huge drop in sperm quality, scientists say as rate of men who may need treatment to conceive soars.

  • Researchers looked at semen samples from men undergoing infertility treatment in the US and Spain

  • The number of men in the cohort increased 7-fold from 8,000 to 60,000 from 2002

  • An increasing number of men had a total motile sperm count so low they may require IVF in order to conceive

  • Meanwhile, the number of men with a normal sperm count dropped

  • Lead researcher Dr Ashley Tiegs said the drop in sperm quality may be caused by unhealthy lifestyles and exposure to plastics

  • The findings, to be presented on Monday, come a year after another study showed data revealed sperm counts have fallen by over 59% since 1973

  • Dr Tiegs says this cohort is a more accurate way of showing the current drop


Sperm count is plummeting - meaning an increasing number of men may need IVF if they hope to conceive, new research shows.

Researchers in the US and Spain analyzed semen samples from two major fertility centers between 2002 and 2017.

The number of men in their cohort went up seven-fold, from 8,000 to 60,000 in that time, with an increasing number diagnosed with oligospermia, a type of male infertility.

What's more, among those men with fertility issues, an increasing number have a sperm count so low they have a higher risk of needing IVF to conceive, while the number of men with a 'normal' sperm count dropped.

Lead researchers Dr Ashley Tiegs, who is presenting the findings at a reproductive medicine conference on Monday, told the drop in sperm quality is possibly driven by environmental factors like smoking, stress, obesity, and exposures to chemicals in plastics.

The study comes a year after experts in Israel and the US sparked alarm with shocking data that sperm counts among men living in Western countries had fallen by 59.3 percent in the last 40 years.

According to Dr Tiegs, this new data - the first to look at sub-fertile males, rather than fertile ones - is an even more accurate demonstration that there is cause for concern when it comes to male fertility, warning: 'this is a public health concern'.

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