Fertility

Spermpocalypse Now?

Are human beings about to become extinct due to falling sperm counts?

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SpermIlexxDreamstime
Ilexx/Dreamstime

The BBC headline blares, "Sperm count drop 'could make humans extinct'."

The story is based on a new systematic review and meta-regression analysis of recent trends in both sperm concentration and total sperm count. The study, published in Human Reproduction Update, reports "a significant decline in sperm counts…between 1973 and 2011, driven by a 50–60% decline among men unselected by fertility from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand." By "unselected," the authors basically mean young men who are screened for military service or college who are unlikely to be aware of their fertility status. (For example, the Danish military subjects its recruits to a compulsory medical examination that apparently includes measuring their sperm count and testes sizes.)

The meta-analysis encompassed the results of 185 studies involving 42,935 men from 50 countries on six continents who provided semen samples from 1973 to 2011. The researchers claim that their analysis tried to take into account confounding factors that lower sperm counts, including obesity, smoking, alcohol use, and stress. They report that sperm counts among unselected men living in rich developed countries fell from 99 million spermatozoa per milliliter in 1973 to 47 million per milliliter in 2011. Total sperm counts fell from 337.5 million to 137.5 million—a decline of nearly 60 percent.

On the other hand, the researchers found no decline in sperm counts among men living in South America, Asia, or Africa.

This not the first time a spermpocalypse has been declared. The claim was first made in 1992 article by Scandinavian researchers, who reported there had been a decline of nearly 50 percent in 50 years. Ever ready to fan the flames of panic, the publicists at Greenpeace quickly initiated a clever campaign of advertisements declaring, "You're not half the man your father was."

As the researchers acknowledge, their study tells us nothing about what caused the declines it identifies. Nevertheless, they speculate that it could be result of endocrine disruption from lifestyle changes and exposures to pesticides and synthetic chemicals. Endocrine disruption is the particular focus of one of the researchers, Shanna Swan, who teaches environmental medicine and public health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. This study will doubtlessly be cited in grant proposals for more funding for research on the toxicologically questionable endocrine disruption paradigm.

So the extinction of humanity due to falling sperm counts near at hand? Perhaps not. In a 2013 comprehensive review of 35 sperm quality studies published after 1992, New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical College fertility specialist Harry Fisch and a colleague looked into the trend data on sperm counts. The researchers reported that eight studies involving a total of 18,109 men suggest a decline in semen quality; 21 studies encompassing 112,386 men show either no change or an increase in semen quality; and six studies involving 26,007 men show ambiguous or conflicting results. The upshot, Fisch says, is that "allegations for a worldwide decline in semen parameter values have not withstood scientific scrutiny." Asked if he stood by those findings, he replies, "Absolutely."

Fisch suggests that despite their efforts to consider confounding effects, the researchers may have failed to adequately take into account the more or less reversible effects on sperm production associated with rising obesity, marijuana use, sedentary lifestyles, and testicular temperature.

Given that the World Health Organization finds that 15 million sperm per milliliter is considered normal and adequate for fertilization, headlines suggesting the imminent extinction of humanity seem a bit overwrought.

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62 responses to “Spermpocalypse Now?

  1. A sticky subject.

    1. Oh, come on.

  2. Maybe we should stop enabling people who can’t reproduce naturally to reproduce. Any fan of science fiction knows how that ends.

    1. Is Title IX a symptom or merely a cause of the disease ?

      If the world is not peopled, where will the Ixian axolotl tanks get feedstock for the next SJW army of clones ?

  3. jeebus i’ve only been here a couple weeks and I know not to post sperm articles…

  4. o/~ Every sperm is sacred / Every sperm is great / When a sperm is wasted / God gets quite irate! o/~

    1. Wunnerful!!!

  5. So not humanity, just whites?

    1. I think the Japanese would be included as well.

      Their birthrates are cratering, but then that’s probably more due to economic stagnation and easy access to midget bukkake tentacle porn.

  6. Given that the World Health Organization finds that 15 million sperm per milliliter is considered normal and adequate for fertilization, headlines suggesting the imminent extinction of humanity seem a bit overwrought.

    A Spermpocalypse may not be imminent, but this should be seen as a collapse in endocrine function for Western men. In case the powers that be ever decide that men’s health matters in any way.

    1. We definitely need a government program focused on Men’s Health.

    2. Must be all that exposure to plastics.

  7. For example, the Danish military subjects its recruits to a compulsory medical examination that apparently includes measuring their sperm count and testes sizes.

    All recruits or just the male ones? I mean, it’d be great in a lot of contexts if the bathroom police didn’t exist anywhere, but it sounds like they already do and a rather short game of connect the dots can connect large portions of our social policy to theirs.

    1. All recruits or just the male ones?

      Conscription in Denmark is limited to “all physically fit men over 18, according to the Constitution of Denmark (?12)…Women may participate, but don’t have to…”.

      “The topic is heavily criticized, due to gender discrimination, involuntary servitude and economic reasons. According to a Gellerup poll, 2 out of 3 Danes wish the mandatory military service abolished”

      I’m willing to bet that since women are not required to serve, the number of female recruits is quite small. I’m further willing to bet that if there was no conscription the number of male recruits would be quite small too.

      1. The above quotes are from the Wikipedia article on “Conscription in Denmark”.

        Apparently the squirrels will no let me post a link.

      2. It’s a shame there’s no Danish Milton Friedman.

        1. There must have been, because a lot of Denmark’s taxes have been well hidden

  8. Great, all those programs against toxic masculinty are working.

    1. Great, all those pogroms programs against toxic masculinty are working.

      FTFY

  9. The BBC headline blares, “Sperm count drop ‘could make humans extinct’.”

    Sierra Club rejoices.

  10. This seems absurd. Maybe there isn’t an evolutionary advantage anymore to higher sperm counts, if you can reproduce just fine with less, who cares?

    1. Maybe there isn’t an evolutionary advantage anymore to higher sperm counts, if you can reproduce just fine with less, who cares?

      Considering sperm are, at best, 50% of the evolutionary equation and still at more than double the number/concentration required to be/become the limiting 50% with no idea as to why the drop occurred, it should be pretty clear that we’re dealing with the noise. If there were some strong direct correlation with, say, eating cheeseburgers or watching TV, it may have some bearing on those activities. Lacking that, it’s little more than using the Mayan calendar to forecast the end of the world.

    2. I’m guessing if there were real evolution at work here, we’d be talking about scopes of tens or hundreds of thousands of years. Even millennials couldn’t accelerate that timeline.

      1. Meh, that’s the older view of evolution. Newer theories suggest you can have pretty major mutations in a few generations.

        1. Theories put forth at roughly 8:37PM?

          1. I don’t even believe in evolution and i know it doesn’t require hundreds of generations. (Disclaimer: i actually do believe in evolution)

    3. I have some first-hand experience with male infertility (sorry, couldn’t think of a better term).

      My wife and I were trying without success to conceive and so we went in and got tested (true story: they had porn mags and a fold-out bed in the “sample room” at the doctor’s office).

      This was about 20 years ago, right when the “plastics are making your balls smaller” panic got started, except back then it was DDT and PCBs that were the supposed causes.

      Anyway, my per mL cell counts were a bit low but the doctor said that didn’t matter; it was the total of the entire ejaculate that was important and because I produced such prodigious volumes my total count was half-a-billion, which in the words of the doctor was enough to “repopulate the entire universe”.

      1. I have some first-hand experience with male infertility (sorry, couldn’t think of a better term).yeah, that’s funny

      2. You’re an inspiration to us all.

  11. If the “Spermpocalypse” factors that lower sperm counts include “obesity, smoking, alcohol use, and stress”, perhaps from a eugenics point of view, it is all for the better.

    🙂

    1. After all, couldn’t the world use a lot fewer fat, addictive, drunken weaklings?

      Double 🙂

      1. What do you have against the Irish?

      2. That’s no way to go through life.

      3. Working class white people react with horror.

  12. WE ARE LEGION

  13. I didn’t need a study to tell me that my sperm was weird.

  14. On the other hand, the researchers found no decline in sperm counts among men living in South America, Asia, or Africa.

    What’s the transgender population percentage in those countries? Bathroom rules? I sense a correlation.

    1. Good point. If they’re averaging in “men” without testicles or prostates that’s going to skew the numbers.

    2. See? this is why white people near to fear the foreign cock. /alt-right

  15. “In a 2013 comprehensive review of 35 sperm quality studies published after 1992”

    How is this review any more comprehensive than the review of more than 180 studies which came up with a different conclusion?

    1. Because it advances the tired old environmentalist trope that living in industrialized society is inherently unhealthy to humans.

      In this case, those cheap, convenient plastics — made from petroleum, mind you — are making your penis/testes smaller. It’s the modern version of the old witch doctor curse to make someone’s dick fall off.

      The reasons Enviro-loonies have such a, um, hard-on for this particular scare are because it’s sensational enough to get the Media to run irresponsible stories AND because the Left can indulge in some good, old-fashioned schadenfreude because those cousin-humping rednecks in oil country won’t be able impregnate Ellie Sue before the next family reunion.

      The possibilities have them on the verge of orgasm. Which is why contrary information will be completely ignored.

      1. And it has the added advantage of requiring GOVERNMENT ACTION (!!!!!) to outlaw plastics and save mankind (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!).

      2. yes, that ‘tired old environmental trope’ that we can endlessly dump unknown toxins with unknown effects and unknown synergistic actions and everything will just be fine…
        (pay no attention to those two-headed frogs and intersexed animals popping up, simply rando stuff…)
        ? ? ?
        for a bunch of too-clever-by-half know-it-alls who don’t know shit about shit, you sure are confident there can’t be anything to all that sciency stuff which happens to correlate with hippie propaganda…
        you dingleberries have your own bullshit orthodoxy and moronic contrarian-for-contrarian’s-sake reflexive reactions to everything you don’t WANT to believe in…
        JUST LIKE ALL THE OTHER NEKKID APES…
        self-awareness is not your strong suit…

      3. “Which is why contrary information will be completely ignored.”

        You mean Reason is ignoring something which is important? What do you have in mind?

  16. “The BBC headline blares, “Sperm count drop ‘could make humans extinct’.”

    Paul Ehrlich hardest hit!

    1. Why? Is Ehrlich some kind of artisanal cum guzzler? Does he not guzzle cum with low sperm counts?

  17. Sounds about right. The only ‘good’ produced by my lifestyle (think pathetic American millennial) is excessive and base pleasure. The ramifications of said lifestyle are many, I don’t see why more latent effects won’t show up as well. The saddest part is seeing that so many others are living like me; it shouldn’t be so, maybe evolution is intervening.

  18. SPERMPOCALYPSE VS. MEGASHARK!!!!

    Coming soon to SyFy.

  19. Are human beings about to become extinct due to falling sperm counts?

    Well, maybe other humans. Hee hee.

  20. I’m sure it’s due to climate change! And capitalism!

  21. Wheeelp… Looks like we’ra hafta comp’nsate fer densih-tee with VAWL-YOOM…

  22. I’m betting that just like the studies that gave us government-endorsed dietary advice and global cooling/warming, this too will be shown to be the product of cherry picking, bad statistical analysis, and a grab for tax dollars.

  23. Spermpocalypse Now

    The ova…the ova…

  24. Odds of 137 million to one still will not make the egg feel all that safe.
    Besides, think of the massive positive impact on global warming / climate change / whatever this week

  25. The alt-right’s terror of cuckoldry is beginning to make sense. Do you think maybe they subconsciously suspect they are shooting blanks?

    1. I thought white people were turned on by cuckoldry… or am I watching different porn than you?

      1. My knowledge of cuckolding porn is limited, I admit. But it does seem like certain white people have an unhealthy obsession with it. Some might call it a “fetish”.

  26. Where is Tony on this? He knows about low sperm counts.

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  28. Lifestile has a huge impact on sperm count, it’s possible to deal with this problem by leaving bad habits, changing the diet etc.

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