An international team of researchers has found a significant decline in sperm counts over the years in many countries globally, including India.
Sperm count is not only an indicator of human fertility but also that of men's health, with low levels being associated with increased risk of chronic disease, testicular cancer and a decreased lifespan, the researchers said.
The decline reflects a global crisis related to modern environment and lifestyle, with broad implications for the survival of the human species, they said.
The study, published in the journal Human Reproduction Update, used data from 223 publications of 53 countries. It includes an additional seven years of data collection (2011-2018) and focuses on sperm count trends among men in regions not reviewed previously, specifically South America, Asia and Africa.
This analysis is the first to report a decline in sperm count among unselected men from South/Central America–Asia–Africa, in contrast to our previous meta-analysis that was underpowered to examine those continents.
"Furthermore, data suggest that this world-wide decline is continuing in the 21st century at an accelerated pace. Research on the causes of this continuing decline and actions to prevent further disruption of male reproductive health are urgently needed", the researchers said.
The study shows an accelerated post-2000 decline in TSC and SC globally.
"India is part of this larger trend. In India, due to availability of good data (including 23 estimates in our study, one of the countries with the richest data), we have more certainty that there is a strong and sustainable decline, but it's similar globally," Professor Hagai Levine of Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel, said.
"Overall, we're seeing a significant worldwide decline in sperm counts of over 50% in the past 46 years, a decline that has accelerated in recent years," Levine said.
"Our new data and analyses confirm our prior findings of an appreciable decline in sperm count between 1973 and 2018 among men from North America, Europe and Australia and support a decline among unselected men from South/Central America, Africa and Asia", the researchers said.
"This decline has continued, as predicted by our prior analysis, and has become steeper since 2000. This substantial and persistent decline is now recognized as a significant public health concern", they added.
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