Scientists are witnessing an alarming trend: Men’s sperm counts are down, testosterone levels have plunged and erectile dysfunction is increasing. Male infertility is on the rise — and exposure to synthetic chemicals known as phthalates could be to blame, according to fertility scientist Shanna Swan, Ph.D., author of the new book, “Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race.”
Citing Swan’s book, the New York Post reported that the global fertility rate has dropped 50% between 1960 and 2016, with the U.S. birth rate 16% below where it needs to be to sustain the population.
Although girls are experiencing early puberty, and women are experiencing declining egg quality and more miscarriages, emerging science is shifting the focus toward men as more couples suffer from infertility.
Scientists report sperm counts have been dropping, infant boys are developing more genital abnormalities and men’s problems with conception are on the rise. Erectile dysfunction is increasing and testosterone levels are decreasing 1% each year.
In 2017, Swan, one of the world’s leading environmental and reproductive epidemiologists, co-authored a meta-analysis that came to a staggering conclusion: The sperm count of average Western countries had fallen by 59% between 1973 and 2011.
Normal sperm counts range from 15 million sperm per milliliter to 200 million per milliliter. A rate below 15 million is considered “low” by the World Health Organization (WHO), but Swan argues that anything below 40 million creates challenges for reproduction. The average male is nearing that number at 47.1 million sperm per milliliter compared to his father who had an average of 99 million sperm per milliliter at the same age.
“If you look at the curve on sperm count and project it forward — which is always risky — it reaches zero in 2045, meaning the median man would have essentially no viable sperm,” Swan writes in her book.