Men Have Half as Much Sperm as They Did 40 Years Ago & the Reasons Why Are So Disturbing

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If it feels like there are a lot more couples in your life who are struggling with infertility, you're not imaging things. And from the looks of a new study on men's sperm counts around the world, things are only going to get harder. Sperm is disappearing. Literally.

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The study, published in the most recent edition of the medical journal Human Reproduction Update, says sperm counts are down by as much as 59 percent for men in North America since 1973.

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The researchers from Hebrew University and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City don't have a definitive reason for the case of the missing sperm, nor was that the aim of their study. But they note a concern that lifestyle issues play a major role, including men's diets and whether or not they smoke.

The other major hypothesis from scientists? Men's sperm counts are precipitously dropping because chemicals in the environment are playing a devastating role ... in particular, prenatal chemical exposure and adult pesticide exposure.

In a statement released to the press, Dr. Shanna H. Swan, a professor in the Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, noted, "Decreasing sperm count has been of great concern since it was first reported 25 years ago. This definitive study shows, for the first time, that this decline is strong and continuing. The fact that the decline is seen in Western countries strongly suggests that chemicals in commerce are playing a causal role in this trend." 

Researchers say this means what moms are exposed to while pregnant could affect their son's sperm counts (and chance at grandchildren) years later. This falls in line with previous warnings that women who smoke during pregnancy can affect their son's future fertility, and those who eat hormone-packed meats can do the same. 

But it's not all on moms (for once). Those chemicals our partners are being exposed to playing football in the park or eating veggies from the grocery store are also affecting our chances at having kids. 

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And while the study only analyzed data up until 2011, scientists warn this trend is not stopping. At least not until we get these dangerous environmental factors under control.

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