As sperm count drops in India globally, experts blame lifestyle, poor diet, ‘unknown causes’ | Update News

The global decline in sperm counts is accelerating, including in India, according to a study that has sparked debate about the possibility of facing a human reproductive crisis if action is not taken.

According to an analysis by Professor Hagai Levine of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Professor Shanna Swan of the Icahn School of Medicine in New York, the average global sperm count fell by more than half between 1973 and 2018.

The study, published November 15 in the journal Human Reproduction Update, used data from 53 countries, including India, and focused on sperm count trends. The study does not include country-specific information, nor does it analyze the reasons for the decline in sperm counts.

However, the results of the research were quite evident in the daily practice of fertility specialists in India.

For example, Dr. Richika Sahay, director of the IVF department at Fortis Hospital Vasant Kunj, confirmed the trend that male semen analysis parameters have been declining for years.

“In 1999, the World Health Organization (WHO) handbook was the fourth handbook, and the fifth handbook in which they performed semen analysis revealed a huge decline,” recalls Sahay. “If you compare the first manual, which came out in 1955, and the fifth manual, you can clearly see the decline, which is a major problem for male fertility.”

Several fertility experts echoed a similar trend.

Dr. Arindam Rath, Senior Fertility Consultant at Apollo Fertility (Kolkata), said that environmental factors and lifestyle have a profound effect on our reproductive capacity, especially in men, where increased well-being is associated with a significant increase in the incidence of testicular cancer and similar decrease in semen quality and testosterone levels.

At the population level, research suggests that the median sperm count has fallen from 104 to 49 million per milliliter in five decades.

The sperm concentration per milliliter of semen has dropped by 52 percent to about 50 million. “That’s still well above the World Health Organization cutoff below which men are considered to have low sperm counts of 15 million per milliliter,” Rath noted. “Fertility begins to decline when sperm concentration falls below 40 million per milliliter, and at the current rate of decline, that number will be the global average within a decade.”

Why is the number falling?

Blame lifestyle, alcohol and cigarette abuse, and poor diet, among other things.

Experts have also pointed out that stress was not a worrying factor decades ago, but is now one of the main contributors to infertility in both men and women.

“Stress changes the daily routine, ultimately leading to lifestyle changes. Work pressure and time also disrupt the cycle; To complete tasks, men stay up late, which affects their fertility cycle,” said Sahay of Fortis Hospitals.

Other major factors include alcohol abuse, cigarettes and drugs, mainly anabolic steroids taken in the gym for bodybuilding purposes.

“Suppose a teenager starts using anabolic steroids to work on his muscles, and by the time he reaches childbearing age, the drug has already done the damage,” said Sahay, adding that there are many challenges humanity will face in the future. Minor but regular disturbances in the fertility cycle will increase the need for fertility specialists.

Rath of Apollo Fertility focused on India’s fertility trend data.

“The decrease in sperm count was 30.31%, while motility and morphology decreased by 22.92% and 51.25%, respectively, over a 13-year period,” he said.

How a drop in sperm count is linked to a reproductive crisis

Experts have explained that poor fetal outcomes, such as stillbirth, preterm birth, or postnatal admission to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), can be related to poor semen quality.

“Poor fetal outcomes may also be correlated to the father’s bias about environmental exposures,” said Rath.

While there is no concrete evidence to suggest a downward trend, fertility experts believe “endocrine disrupting chemicals” or other environmental factors could be one possible cause.

“In adulthood, a man’s exposure to pesticides, lack of exercise, poor diet, smoking and obesity can reduce sperm count. Excessive weight changes hormone levels and increases the amount of estrogen in the male body,” explained Rath.

Additionally, excess fat around the male reproductive organs can increase their temperature, reducing sperm production.

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