Our first floor hasserious global consequences, the very survival ofthe human species, but it’s about somethingthat really couldn’t get more personal– fertility. Researchers has now been foundstaggering stops in male sperm tally in Western countries. The great question is, why? Correspondent Tim Samuelsagreed to situated himself on the front linesin New York to figure out what’s up down there.[ music playing] I’m Tim Samuels, inNew York, investigating a crisis close to home– the global spermaggedon .[ music playing] An alarming new study has foundthat between 1973 and 2011, sperm weighs in Western males– gentlemen in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand– descent from an average of9 9 million sperm per cubic centimeter to just 47 million. Theoretically, ifthe trend perseveres, by 2050, our sperm maydisappear perfectly.[ music playing] I’m here to add my sampleto the scientific pool, and I am deeply hopeful thatmine are still swimming.[ music playing] Hi. I’m Tim. Hi, Tim.I’m Miriam.Hi, Miriam. TIM SAMUELS( VOICEOVER ): This is about to get awkward. OK. Here’s your specimen flask. You can come right on in now. You’re provided with thematerials that you need. And once you’re finished, yougive me a call at this digit. Is there a special message? Thunderbirds are go? MIRIAM: Uh, you’re done. OK[ laughter] OK? Good? – Yeah.- I’ll see you then. See you on the other side.MIRIAM: Hasta la vista. Cheers.[ music playing] TIM SAMUELS( VOICEOVER ): WithMiriam analyzing my sample upstairs, I’m turnedloose on wall street to fret over my counting andthe modern epoch phenomena like stress and obesitybelieved to lower it. Don’t get me wrong. I make my fertilityvery seriously. To prep for this count, I’ve been eating right, exerting, succeeding stress. Recently, I even startedlaying off the guzzle. But troubling study suggestslittle of this may matter. Of the many influences contributingto sperm counting nosedive, there’s one that’sespecially hard to avoid– plastics. More solely, a group of substances is located within many plasticproducts called phthalates.Phthalates are added toplastic during fabrication to make it soft and flexible. They’re just wonderfullyversatile, astounding makes. It’s just that they alsohave the effect of altering our bodies’ hormones. TIM SAMUELS( VOICEOVER ): Epidemiologist Shanna Swan, who co-authored thebreakthrough birthrate study, also researchesphthalates’ outcome on the hormone testosterone. Shanna’s met me atthis 99 -cent store to show me how ubiquitousthese substances are. TIM SAMUELS: For mehandling a plastic bottle, how does it get fromthere to my testes? The substances thatwe were concerned about are not chemicallybound to the plastic. They are in the composition, but they come out. TIM SAMUELS( VOICEOVER ): Microwaving leftovers in a plastic containeris a prime example. When heated, thephthalates leach out of the plastic into the food.We’re ingesting them, we’re absorb them, and we’re breathing them. TIM SAMUELS( VOICEOVER ): Forreasons not entirely known, formerly inside the body, phthalates seem to inhibit testosterone production. That’s scary enoughwhen you’re a grown-up male, but Shanna’s researchsuggests worse expense could be done before we’re even digest. Your mother, when she waspregnant with you, what she boozed, what she devour, what she was exposed to was actively affectingyour person within her body. TIM SAMUELS( VOICEOVER ): Forhis sex organs to develop, the male fetus needstestosterone in utero.[ music playing] When it’s not thereat the right time, in the right amount, then he can be what we call incompletely masculinized. TIM SAMUELS( VOICEOVER ): Translation– his testicles may not develop, and his penis may be smaller.SHANNA SWAN: And he willhave a low seman tally. That’s amazing. SHANNA SWAN: Itis extraordinary.[ music playing] TIM SAMUELS( VOICEOVER ): The fertility study which Shanna co-authoredfocused on Western adults because similar data is lessavailable in other countries, but that doesn’t mean thephenomenon isn’t worldwide. If that trendcontinues as is, does it are now beginning to pose existentialthreats to our categories? I am not a seer. I can’t prophesy thefuture, but I can tell you what doesn’t glance good.[ music playing] TIM SAMUELS( VOICEOVER ): Our poor dwindle sperm.They’re working overtime topropagate the human race, but how much longercan they keep working? What would a post-spermworld look like? Looks like I picked thewrong week to stop drinking. Things are shocking. I wouldn’t deny it, but I’ma little bit more optimistic. TIM SAMUELS( VOICEOVER ): Bioethicist Arthur Caplan understands a future in which weditch very concerned about promote seman weighs andfocus on raising actual seman with stem cells. It announces a little nuts, but you take the cadre, you placed it in a dish, you putthe freedom chemicals around it, and lo and beheld, you can trickit into concluding sperm cells. TIM SAMUELS: So is the futureof reproduction in 20, 30 years, you know, darling, let’s make a baby. Rather than havingsex, hold on, I’m just going to takesome stem cells, turn architect them, and try and select the seman from there.I think sex alwayswill have a future, but it may get disconnectedfrom replication. Engineering a betterbaby is the future.[ music playing] TIM SAMUELS( VOICEOVER ): Sperm by design. I’m ready to dive right in.[ music playing] Engineered to have mymost desirable traits– intelligence, stunninggood looks, athleticism, ready to pair withthe perfect egg.[ music playing] This technologywill be great when it’s ready in 10 or15 years, but that might be too late for me. So I’m headed backto Weill Cornell to learn how my test fared.[ music playing] It’s a little like being anexpectant expectant father. Tim, hi.Peter Schlegel.- Great. So we’re going togo right in now. TIM SAMUELS( VOICEOVER ): Weill Cornell urologist Peter Schlegelspecializes in male fertility. OK, so we’ve got some answers. Miriam is looking atthe sample right now.[ music playing] OK, so that’s– that’smy, uh, my chaps in there? That is your sample on there. TIM SAMUELS( VOICEOVER ): Time for the moment of truth. TIM SAMUELS: This is it? Wow. This is– it’s mind-blowingto see your individual seman. Now, are they swimmingjust erratically in circles or is there a pattern to this? Well, they neverask for tacks, which is part of the problem.Yeah. TIM SAMUELS( VOICEOVER ): Butnow for the potent question, how’s my counting? PETER SCHLEGEL: Theconcentration of sperm in the test is 87 million. The average somebody will have6 0 to 80 million semen. You’re even a littlebetter than than average. OK. But is the assumptionthat, had I lived 40 several years ago, ifwe’d been doing this, it would have been better? Good question. Probably in theprevious generation, numbers were higher.[ music playing] TIM SAMUELS( VOICEOVER ): OK. So thankfully, mychaps can swim better than I can, andtheoretically, seem up to the reproductive task.Now, time the smaller matterof find an egg they can call home.[ music playing ].