On September 14, 2021, the late-night news satire program The Daily Show with Trevor Noah aired a segment by correspondent Dulcé Sloan investigating ‘what’s behind the sperm recession.’ Sloane interviewed Fairfax Cryobank director Michelle Ottey and reproductive epidemiologist Shanna Swan to learn more about the changes in male reproductive health over the last 50 years. Measures show a decrease in semen volume and sperm count and an increase in testicular cancer and erectile dysfunction.
Ottey explained that the volume and quality of sperm donations the Cryobank receives have declined over the last decade, which Sloan described upon viewing in the microscope “a lot of ‘em are just not moving… don’t have tails…”
Swan interprets the changes Ottey has seen at the sperm bank as “an indication that we are in trouble. It’s pointing out a problem which is not just about sperm.” Researchers have measured changes in the reproductive system not only in humans but also in other animals including fish, reptiles, and amphibians (FPF reported). When asked what is causing these changes, Swan declares “we’re being poisoned by the byproducts in our plastics. The phthalates and the phenols and so on… trick our body into thinking that they are hormones like our testosterone or estrogen.” These and other endocrine disrupting chemicals have been shown to negatively affect women and children as well, influencing thyroid function, pregnancy length, post-partum depression, and infant cognitive ability (FPF reported, also here and here)
Shanna Swan is an expert on chemical pollution and reproduction and released Count Down, a book on the subject, earlier this year (FPF reported here and here). Swan will be one of the speakers at the 2021 Food Packaging Forum Workshop taking place October 6-8.
Dulcé Sloan (September 14, 2021). “Count on It with Dulcé – What’s Behind the Sperm Recession?” The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
Vice (July 1, 2021). “Spermageddon: The Male Fertility Crisis.” YouTube