Whether men are having a hard time having babies remains inconclusive, but their struggle with lowering sperm count has attracted widespread attention.
Scientists have fretted over a seemingly preposterous drop in sperm concentration globally — and many find common chemicals to blame.
According to new research published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives on Wednesday, pesticide exposure can be linked to lower sperm concentration in men around the world.
The data: The researchers studied the exposure to two common classes of insecticides — organophosphates and N-methyl carbamates (NMCs) — used in agriculture, home gardening, and veterinary practice to kill many types of insects and parasites.
“Insecticides are a concern for public health and all men, who are exposed primarily through the consumption of contaminated food and water,” said doctoral student and study co-author Lauren Ellis in the press release for the study.
Dr. Shanna Swan on dropping sperm count. Swan authored the book “Count Down” and was one of the authors of the 2017 study that concluded a significant drop in sperm concentration over 40 years in Western countries.
Context: “Over the course of 50 years, sperm concentration has fallen about 50% around the world,” said Melissa Perry, senior study author and dean of the College of Public Health at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia told CNN.
Yes, but: Study authors have typically taken a single metric — sperm count — as an accurate predictor of male fertility and health. The association, while important, has its limitations.
Men’s sperm counts are still well within a normal range, suggest experts, unconvinced whether we’re actually approaching a population and reproductive crisis.
Scientists suggest that the chemicals of concern are “endocrine disruptors” — chemicals like phthalates and BPA — that inhibit the effects of testosterone.