For men in the Western world, there has been a significant decline in the quantity and quality of sperm. While the quantity is necessary for obvious reasons, the quality of sperm health — including the shape and mobility — is also paramount.
According to mindbodygreen (mbg), data analysis of 42,935 men from Western countries including Australia, New Zealand, North America and Europe found that sperm concentration and count decreased by 50-60% between 1973 to 2011.
The men included in the data analysis were divided into “unselected” men, which included university students and military recruits who were likely to be unaware of their fertility as well as “fertile” men, who had children or had impregnated women. According to Healthline, the men in the “unselected” group were found to have a 52% drop in sperm concentration during the four decades.
Unfortunately, scientists haven’t been able to pinpoint one singular cause of this degradation of sperm health in these countries, but as mbg pointed out, modern life as a whole is probably contributing to the decline. Considering how drastically lifestyles have changed since the 1970s, it’s unsurprising.
“This definitive study shows, for the first time, that this decline is strong and continuing,” Shanna H. Swan, PhD, co-author of the study, said in a statement. “The fact that the decline is seen in Western countries strongly suggests that chemicals in commerce are playing a causal role in this trend.”
ABC Life points to diet as playing an important role in fertility for men, as what you eat or drink can actually influence how well your sperm performs. According to Sydney fertility specialist Dr Anne Clark, roughly 53% of men who visit her clinic have at least one form of nutritional deficiency that has a negative impact on sperm health.
Filling your diet with fruit, veggies and wholegrains is important for optimum fertility in men, as these foods contain antioxidants that inhibit free radicals, which can damage sperm.
Limiting the amount of soft drink you consume is also important, with a study out of the United States finding that a couple’s fertility can be reduced by up to 33% of the man drinks one to two glasses of fizzy drink per day.
Incorporating a plethora of vitamins and minerals into your diet every day as well as practising moderation when it comes to drinking will help with your fertility efforts.
“Having the right nutrient mix is important,” Dr Clark told ABC Life. “If you have a normal balanced diet you’ll be getting all the important nutrients.”
More research needs to be conducted in the field of men’s fertility in order to further explore the causes of this worrying decline in sperm health across the Western world.