Title: Male Infertility Crisis: The Impact of Modern Life on Human Reproduction

Editor’s Note: This article is a reprint. It was originally published August 9, 2017.

Human fertility is in a downward spiral, scientists warn and modern life — with its technological and chemical “progress” — is likely to blame. Female infertility tends to get the most attention, but in this case, it’s male infertility that has made headlines, as research shows sperm concentration and quality has dramatically declined in decades.1,2,3,4,5

Male Infertility Rates Warn of Impending Human Extinction

According to the first of two published papers,6 a meta-analysis of 185 studies and the largest of its kind, sperm counts around the world declined by more than 50%, to 47 million sperm per milliliter (mL), between 1973 and 2013, and continue to dwindle.

The most significant declines were found in samples from men in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, where many had sperm concentrations below 40 million/mL. (Men suspected of infertility, such as those attending IVF clinics, were excluded from the study.) Overall, men in these countries had a 52.4% decline in sperm concentration and a 59.3% decline in total sperm count (sperm concentration multiplied by the total volume of an ejaculate).

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 40 million sperm per mL is considered the cutoff point at which a man will have trouble fertilizing an egg, which means half of the men in most developed nations are near or at the point of being infertile. South American, Asian and African men had no noticeable decline, although this discrepancy could be due to the smaller sample sizes obtained from those countries.

As noted by Frederick vom Saal, professor emeritus of biological sciences at the University of Missouri, who was not involved in the study, these findings are a wake-up call and a warning that “we are in a death spiral of infertility in men.” Indeed, lead author Dr. Hagai Levine, who called the results “profound” and “shocking,”7 worries that human extinction is a very real possibility, should the trend continue unabated.8

Danish researcher and pediatrician Dr. Niels Skakkebæk, who in 1992 published a paper9 showing male fertility declined between 1940 and 1990, also commented on the findings, saying:

“These two new papers add significantly to existing literature on adverse trends in male reproductive health problems … Here in Denmark, there is an epidemic of infertility. More than 20 percent of Danish men do not father children.

Most worryingly [in Denmark] is that semen quality is in general so poor that an average young Danish man has much fewer sperm than men had a couple of generations ago, and more than 90 percent of their sperm are abnormal.”

Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals Wreak Havoc on Men’s Reproductive Ability

The second paper,10 published in PLOS Genetics, suggests endocrine-disrupting chemicals are to blame for the dramatic decline in reproductive health among men.11 It found that exposing male mice to ethinyl estradiol, a synthetic sex hormone found in birth control pills, causes developmental problems in the reproductive tract, thereby lowering sperm counts.

While men do not use birth control pills, they’re exposed to them nonetheless through contaminated water and other sources. Men are also exposed to a number of other endocrine-disrupting chemicals in their day-to-day lives,12 thanks to the pernicious use of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in plastics, personal care products, herbicides such as glyphosate13 (which is a very common contaminant in nonorganic foods) and more.

The study also confirmed that the effects of environmental estrogens have generational effects. Males are successively becoming increasingly more sterile with each passing generation. As reported by Environmental Health News:14

“They observed adverse effects starting in the first generation of mouse lineages where each generation was exposed for a brief period shortly after birth. The impacts worsened in the second generation compared to the first, and by the third generation the scientists were finding animals that could not produce sperm at all.

This latter condition was not seen in the first two generations exposed. Details of the experimental results actually suggested that multiple generations of exposure may have increased male sensitivity to the chemical.”

Testicular cancer is also on the rise, as are congenital malformations of the penis, and these problems have also been linked to endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Experiments on fathead minnows show endocrine disruptors turn the fish into a sterile intersex species, meaning they have both male and female reproductive systems yet are incapable of reproducing.15

While women are also adversely affected by these kinds of chemicals, men are disproportionally affected due to the way the male reproductive system develops in utero. At the outset, male and female fetuses are fairly identical. Sex hormones are what drive the differentiation between the sexes. Alas, when synthetic chemicals that mimic these all-important hormones enter into the mix, it confuses the process and interferes with the biological process of turning the fetus into a male.

Corruption and Lies Threaten Human Health and Survival

The United States permits more than 84,000 chemicals to be used in household products, cosmetics, food and food packaging, and a majority of these have never been tested for safety. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, 85% of new chemical applications include no testing whatsoever.

What’s worse, the chemical industry has a long history of lying about the safety of their wares, and its powerful lobby has allowed the industry to saturate the world in extremely dangerous chemicals with little or no oversight.

As revealed by Grant David Gillham,16 a political consultant who ran Citizens for Fire Safety, the American Chemistry Council17 (the chemical industry’s trade group) flat out lied when it said it had no involvement with Citizens for Fire Safety. The group was in fact created with the specific aim of defending the use of flame retardants in furniture — despite the fact that they don’t work and are profoundly toxic — to protect the industry’s interests.

Everything an expectant mother takes into her body can potentially get passed along to her developing child, and scientific evidence strongly suggests exposure to chemicals is contributing to cancer, reproductive abnormalities, early puberty18,19,20

In a 2005 study,21 the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in the umbilical cord blood of infants born in the U.S. Tests detected a total of 287 chemicals from pesticides, consumer products, food packaging and environmental waste, including BPA, flame retardants, PCBs and even DDT. As noted in a 2009 scientific statement from the Endocrine Society:22

“The evidence for adverse reproductive outcomes (infertility, cancers, malformations) from exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals is strong, and there is mounting evidence for effects on other endocrine systems, including thyroid, neuroendocrine, obesity and metabolism, and insulin and glucose homeostasis …

Effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals may be transmitted to further generations through germline epigenetic modifications or from continued exposure of offspring to the environmental insult.”

Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals — The Dirty Dozen

As mentioned, endocrine-disrupting chemicals specifically alter the normal function of your hormones.23 A hormone’s job is to interact with the cells in your body, sending signals that instruct them to perform certain tasks, and endocrine-disrupting chemicals interfere with this communication process. In 2013, the EWG24 identified 12 of the most troublesome hormone wreckers.

Surprisingly, along with some very well-known endocrine disruptors,25,26 the review also identified several you might not normally associate with hormone disruption, such as lead, mercury and arsenic. The EWG’s “dirty dozen” list for the 12 worst endocrine disruptors are outlined in the following table.

Bisphenol-A (BPA)





Fire retardants27




Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs)

Organophosphate pesticides28

Glycol ethers

Other Root Causes of Infertility

While endocrine-disrupting chemicals are high on the list of contributing factors, they’re not the only ones. Other variables that can affect a man’s reproductive ability include:

  • Electromagnetic field (EMF) exposures
  • Nutritional deficiencies and/or food intolerances
  • Stress
  • Immune deficiencies
  • Obesity and/or inactivity

These subtle but critical factors synergistically interact to impact the quality of a woman’s eggs and a man’s sperm, affecting a couple’s ability to conceive and the health of the embryo. For example, while a gluten intolerance alone cannot cause infertility, the resulting gut inflammation can affect your nutrient absorption and lead to deficiencies in nutrients you need for optimal sperm, egg and hormone production and a healthy pregnancy.

In terms of diet, certain nutrients are also more important than others when it comes to fertility. Animal-based omega-3 fats and vitamin D are two vital components that can have a significant impact. Both are also crucial during pregnancy to protect the health of both mother and child.

Optimizing your vitamin D could be one of the most important things a woman could possibly do in pregnancy, as research clearly shows that achieving a vitamin D serum level of at least 40 ng/mL (100 nmol/L) reduces the risk of premature birth by 60%. It also helps protect against a number of pregnancy complications, as well as autism spectrum disorder and Type 1 diabetes in the child.

Microwave Exposure Is Decimating Male Reproductive Health

I personally believe this may be the most significant factor for the observed decrease in male sperm count. You may not recall this, but it was well known in World War II that radar operators could easily create sterility by exposing the groin to radar waves. Radar is microwave radiation and was the precursor to cellphones that use similar frequencies.

In May 2011, the cancer research arm of the WHO, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, classified radiofrequency EMF — such as the radiation from cellphones — a class 2B carcinogen, meaning it is possibly carcinogenic to humans.29 Research also suggests microwave radiation may play a significant role in male reproductive health.

While evaluating studies showing you can radically reduce biological microwave damage using calcium channel blockers, Dr. Martin Pall discovered a previously unknown mechanism of biological harm from microwaves emitted by cellphones and other wireless technologies.30

Embedded in your cell membranes are voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs). It turns out these VGCCs are activated by microwaves, and when that happens, about 1 million calcium ions per second are released.

This massive excess of intracellular calcium then stimulates the release of nitric oxide (NO) inside your cell and mitochondria, which combines with superoxide to form peroxynitrite. Not only do peroxynitrites cause oxidative damage, but they also create hydroxyl free radicals — the most destructive free radicals known to man.

Hydroxyl free radicals decimate mitochondrial and nuclear DNA, their membranes and proteins. The end result is mitochondrial dysfunction, which we now know is at the heart of most chronic diseases.

The tissues with the highest density of VGCCs are your brain, the pacemaker in your heart and male testes. (A man’s testicles are also more vulnerable to EMFs for the fact that they’re on the outside of the body. Women’s eggs, on the other hand, are somewhat protected and shielded from EMFs due to them being further inside the body.31)

What this research tells us is that excessive microwave exposure can be a direct contributor to conditions such as Alzheimer’s, anxiety, depression, autism, cardiac arrhythmias and infertility.32 Indeed, other studies have linked low-level electromagnetic radiation (EMR) exposure from cellphones to an 8% reduction in sperm motility and a 9% reduction in sperm viability. Post navigation

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