Sperm counts in Western countries have dropped by more than 50 percent since the 1970s. At the same time, men’s problems with conceiving are going up: Erectile dysfunction is increasing and testosterone levels are declining by 1 percent each year.
“The current state of reproductive affairs can’t continue much longer without threatening human survival,” warns Mount Sinai fertility scientist Dr. Shanna Swan in her book, “Count Down” (Scribner), out Tuesday. “It’s a global existential crisis.”
Dr. Swan should know — she’s been researching fertility for thirty years. She studied a miscarriage boom in Santa Clara, Calif., in the 1980s, which she eventually linked to toxic waste dumped into the drinking water by a local semiconductor plant. She moved on to sperm rates in 1997 and they’ve been her “canary in a coal mine scenario” since. In 2017, she sounded the alarm with a meta-analysis of 40,000 men that showed that sperm count fell a whopping 59 percent between 1973 and 2011.