- Pro, no more annoying kids in public. Con, humanity might go extinct.
Some time ago we brought you a story about a global sperm bank that scientists want to build on the Moon. If the facility is built, it would house sperm and eggs from a large numbers of animal species, in addition to humans.
But if they are serious about constructing the lunar sperm bank, they might want to hurry up. Otherwise there might not be functional human sperm left to store.
The existence of humanity is facing an unprecedented threat. In just a couple of decades, our ability to make babies could be seriously hindered.
Sperm counts in human males are falling drastically. Based on a 2017 study, human sperm counts have plummeted 59% between 1973 and 2011, reported Axios.
“If you look at the curve on sperm count and project it forward — which is always risky — it reaches zero in 2045,” said the mentioned study’s co-author Shanna Swan, an epidemiologist from the Mt. Sinai Medical School.
That means that in some 24 years, human males would become unable to produce viable sperm cells. We don’t need to tell you that it’s not good news for making new humans.
“That’s a little concerning, to say the least,” said Swan, clearly aiming for the Understatement of the Year prize.
“I made it to the egg, guys! Hey? Guys…?”
The Penis that Vanished
Lower sperm counts aren’t the only thing threatening human reproduction. It also turns out that our dongs are getting smaller.
Swan told The Intercept that an increasing number of baby boys around the world are being born with smaller penises. Again, it goes without saying that if the human penis shrinks to nothingness, it’ll be a problem for continuing the species.
In addition to disappearing dongs, the rates for erectile dysfunction are going up. At the same time, global fertility rate – that is, the number of births per woman – has crashed.
In 2018, the rate stood at 2.4 babies per woman. Compare that to 5.06 in 1964, and it’s down almost by a half.
“In some parts of the world, the average 20-something woman today is less fertile than her grandmother was at 35,” Swan writes in her new book Count Down.
Also, the distance between the anus and the beginning of the genitals – the taint, in other words – is getting shorter in males. We’re not exactly sure how that works, but Swan says taint length’s importance for sexual reproduction has been recognized since the 1920s.
In a nutshell, humanity is collectively losing its ability to sex it up and make babies. A little concerning, indeed.
“Of five possible criteria for what makes a species endangered only one needs to be met; the current state of affairs for humans meets at least three,” writes Swan.
Chemicals are Forever
The question everyone is asking at this point is, what is causing all this? And is there anything we can do about it?
Well, a part of the cause can be found in modern lifestyles, wrote The Guardian. Cultural change, the availability of contraceptives, and the skyrocketing costs of living and medical and child care are all making people more reluctant to procreate.
But cultural shift can’t explain the biological effects, like shrinking penises. According to Swan, the culprit can be found in what she calls “everywhere chemicals.”
Phtalates and bisphenol-A are among these chemicals. They are used in everything from plastic containers and food wrappings to clothes and shampoos.
These compounds are also called “forever chemicals.” They got that moniker because they break down in the body or in nature.
Simply put, they keep building up wherever they find themselves in. And when they get in to a living creature, the results aren’t pretty.
In short, phthalates – for example – wreak ruin upon the reproductive system. Research has found that fetal rats exposed to phthalates were more likely to developed malformed genitals.
During her studies, Swan has found the same effect happens in human fetuses. But the changes in humans aren’t limited to merely physical alterations.
“We found a relationship between women’s phthalate levels and their sexual satisfaction,” Swan told The Intercept.
“Researchers in China found that [male] workers with higher levels of bisphenol-A, commonly known as BPA, in their blood were more likely to have sexual problems, including decreased desire,” she added.
In addition to lowering sex drive, phthalate exposure also affects hormonal balance and behavior, Swan said. According to her, children exposed to these chemicals start exhibiting lower sexual dimorphism – meaning that differences between sexes are eroding.
All these effects – physical, hormonal, and behavioral – keep compounding over generations. And the path they’re putting humanity on isn’t leading to good places.
“The fact that we carry with us the problems of the past generations means that we’re starting at a lower level and getting hit again and again and again,” explained Swan.
“If we didn’t have a hit from our parents and our grandparents, then each generation would just start all over again. It would be bad, but the impact would be at the same level each time.”
Unfortunately, little has been done to combat these developments, said Swan. She says that no scientific study has sparked the policy changes that would be needed.
Swan hopes that her new book might finally ring the alarm bells. If it doesn’t, human babies could soon be a rarity.