Expert Warns Falling Sperm Count Threatens Humanity’s Survival

by : Julia Banim on : 26 Feb 2021 14:19
Expert Warns Falling Sperm Count Threatens Humanity's SurvivalPexels/Dimension Films

An expert has warned that falling sperm counts and changes to sexual development are posing a threat to ‘humanity’s survival’, leading to a global fertility crisis.

In her new book, Count Down, environmental and reproductive epidemiologist Shanna Swan warns that this crisis could well pose a global threat on a similar scale to climate change.


This follows a 2017 study co-authored by Swan that found that sperm counts in the west had dropped by a staggering 59% between 1973 and 2011.


This, combined with falling testosterone levels and escalating rates of testicular cancer and erectile dysfunction, has led to a 1% increase per year of adverse reproductive changes for men, according to Swan.

As per Axios, Swan said:


If you look at the curve on sperm count and project it forward – which is always risky – it reaches zero in 2045. That’s a little concerning, to say the least.

The number of births per woman worldwide has dropped from 5.06 in 1964 to just 2.4 in 2018. Around half of countries – including the US – currently have fertility rates recorded to be below the population replacement level of 2.1 births.

It’s projected that this proportion will rise to two-thirds of countries by 2050, endangering human life as we know it.

spermWikimedia Commons

There are various factors link to falling fertility rates that appear to be largely unconnected to sperm counts, for example access to birth control, changing cultural preferences, and higher costs of child raising.

However, there is still a notable gap around the world between the amount of children people say they want and the number they have. This would therefore indicates that at least some of the decline isn’t completely voluntary.

In Count Down, Swan notes that rising miscarriage rates and impacted fecundity even among younger women are additional signs that biological factors as well as socioeconomic ones have influenced these declining rates.

Swan noted a rise in boys with clear genital abnormalities, declining in anogenital distance in infant males and earlier signs of puberty among girls.


This is reportedly related to changes in hormones or endocrines, especially androgens, sex hormones which cause biologically male characteristics to develop.

Swan believes this is due endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the environment, such as phthalates and bisphenol-A. These substances are referred to as ‘everywhere chemicals’ due to their presence in everyday objects such as pesticides, cosmetics and ATM receipts.

According to Swan:


Chemicals in our environment and unhealthy lifestyle practices in our modern world are disrupting our hormonal balance, causing various degrees of reproductive havoc.

However, Swan has also noted that other factors impair male and female fertility beyond environmental chemicals. For example, smoking tobacco or marijuana and rising obesity levels.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: Science, Now


  1. Axion

    Falling sperm counts could threaten the human race