Black men have lower sperm counts than white men

Semen parameters in fertile US men: the Study for Future Families

The Study for Future Families (SFF) recruited men who were partners of pregnant women attending prenatal clinics in Los Angeles CA, Minneapolis MN, Columbia MO, New York City NY and Iowa City IA. Semen samples were collected on site from 763 men (73% White, 15% Hispanic/Latino, 7% Black and 5% Asian or other ethnic group) using strict quality control and well-defined protocols. [. . .] Black men had significantly lower semen volume, sperm concentration and total motile sperm counts than White and Hispanic/Latino men.
This is consistent with the other evidence I'm aware of. Lower sperm counts have been noted in Africa, and a study in Rochester, NY, that included a small number of American blacks similarly found:
All sperm parameters were significantly lower in the small subgroup (n = 7) of African-American men compared with other men in this population (p-values for sperm parameters, < 0.001 to 0.016).
Also consistent with these results: the only autopsy studies I'm aware of (at least one of which Rushton knew of before he became selectively forgetful) both suggest black men have smaller/lighter testes than white men.


Peter Frost said...

I would be careful about drawing any conclusions. A sperm count will be lower if the man has ejaculated over the previous three days. Yes, the participants in this study were married men, but marriage doesn't preclude masturbation or sex with other women.

n/a said...


I'm pretty sure blacks self-report less masturbation. That may or may not be partly attributable to greater social desirability bias in blacks, but either way there's still no evidence in the direction you suggest.

I also believe that going by surveys that ask when the last time someone had sex was (rather than directly asking someone how frequently they have sex), US black men if anything have sex less frequently than US white men.

Finally, I didn't "draw conclusions" in this post (if by that you mean proposing deep evolutionary explanations or ruling out any possible environmental influences). I just relayed some evidence, for the benefit of people who draw conclusions based on circularly-invented "facts" that have never actually been supported by the data, and people misled by them.

Anonymous said...

Similarly, a study in Italy found that Nothern Italian men belonging to paternal haplogroup E had a significantly higher rate of low sperm counts than men belonging to other haplogroups:

Peter Frost said...

I guess we're in agreement. If the black participants self-reported less masturbation than they had actually engaged in, their sperm counts should correspondingly be lower than is the case in reality, i.e., in the absence of sexual activity. This kind of self-report bias, plus the very small sample size, makes the finding worthless.

Sometimes, I feel the same way as you do about people I disagree with. By a happy coincidence, the other fellow is always the one who is misled and engages in fallacious reasoning. But it's still wrong to counter a false argument with bad data. A false argument should be countered with good data.

n/a said...


"This kind of self-report bias"

No, we're not in agreement: there is no evidence whatsoever the data is biased in this fashion, or that if it were this would fully explain low black sperm counts (much less explain why black men have physically smaller testes).

You're of course free to continue trying to make up reasons to ignore data you don't like, in service of being able to continue spinning theories unburdened by evidence. I'll continue to post the actual data I come across.

Gottlieb said...

Ui ui nervous people in the room, I did not understand, blacks have smaller testicles??

7 people is a very low amount of sampling and the black race is quite diverse.

Anonymous said...

Gottlieb it's multiple studies...

> Semen samples were collected on site from 763 men (73% White, 15% Hispanic/Latino, 7% Black and 5% Asian or other ethnic group)

That's 53 Black dudes in this one.

Sean said...

"blacks have smaller testicles?"
Yes, they do.

The study was on "men who were partners of pregnant women". The partners of pregnant women have drops in testosterone I believe. Moreover. Black men who have close relationships with women attending prenatal clinics may be untypical of Black men in general, as may those agreeing to participate in studies (Tuskegee?) may be.

n/a said...

The black sample in the larger study actually contains 57 individuals, and we're not talking about a small difference here. Mean black sperm counts are barely over half white sperm counts. Black sperm counts were lower than white sperm counts at testing locations in 4 different states (CA, MN, MO, and IA; this study didn't include enough samples for NY to be broken out separately).

Note that abstinence time is higher (not lower) in the black sample.

In the independent, Rochester, NY, study, despite the presence of only 7 black individuals, the differences were large enough to have p-values well below 5%.

These are the facts. You're going to need to start working on better excuses.

Peter Frost said...

Perhaps I'm missing something, but all this seems to prove is that many of the African Americans masturbated during their abstinence period. Even if they had masturbated at the same rate as the other participants, we're still looking at a massive reduction in sample size.

A recent study on semen quality found that almost a third of the participants failed to comply with the abstinence period, i.e., they either masturbated or had sex with a woman.

N/a, I assume you're an academic, so please cut out the ad hominem stuff. It sucks.

n/a said...

People who expect to be taken seriously don't get to invent facts and then use them as reasons to ignore data.

What is in evidence: reported abstinence time is higher (not lower) in the black sample.

What is not in evidence: any indication that the black sample more frequently misreported abstinence time.

"The methods for collection and analyses of semen samples
were previously described (Brazil et al., 2004a). Men were asked
to observe a 2–5 day abstinence period and then provide semen
samples by masturbation at study clinics. Samples were not
rejected if a man deviated from the requested abstinence period
but for this analysis we arbitrarily excluded 34 men with very
short (<2 h) or very long (>240 h) reported abstinence times.
Almost all samples (95%) were analysed within 45 min of collection.
Most men (approximately 85%) provided two samples an
average of 24 days apart."

"Men were requested to observe a 2–5 day abstinence period before providing each semen sample. Prior to each of the 2 visits, which were approximately 3 weeks apart, we mailed instructions regarding specimen collection, including a schedule to assist the subject in timing his last ejaculation prior to the visit. At the time of the visit the importance of accurately reporting the actual abstinence period was stressed, and the men were assured that their sample would not be rejected if they deviated from the recommended abstinence protocol."

Gottlieb said...

Ooops, sorry, i really don't see with attention to this.
This study was realized in Brazil??

Realist said...

Blacks have sex way more often than whites so it's predictable they would have less sperm left.

Unknown said...

The first report in the first link is mainly about the great decline In European reproductive health, as seen by the fact that many European men have very low sperm counts. Thougths?

Anonymous said...

...and black penises are way smaller than white penises, we know this by comparing a line up of men where 7% were black & 73% were white, amazing facts what a brilliant study!

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Anonymous said...

Well we don't see this in the birthrates now do we?
Last I read about this topic, it said black men produce sperm counts faster than any other race, higher levels of testosterone. Or should I say.. testosTyrone (haha).
In any case, even if the count would be lower, only one hero can make it to the egg.

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Anonymous said...

I'd be interested to see a study that assesses the sperm count of a single ethnic group over income. As a rule any study that compares different races, must take into account socio-economics, that is if you wish to make a conclusion relating to the biological differences.

Now, it should become evident to most people that any study that compares Blacks with Whites in the US (African-Americans vs Non-Hispanic White Americans), or Globally (Sub-Saharan Africans to Europeans) will be distorted by the effects of the huge gulf between the two group's average socio-economic status.

Sure, it does mean that extrapolating this sample it infers that if you were to take a random Black person in the US, they would have a lower semen volume and sperm count than a random White person in the US. Just as how US Prison statistics suggest that you're more likely to find a former felon by picking out a random Black person than a random White person. Or that you're more likely to find a White person that can play tennis, golf, or can swim better than finding a Black person that can play tennis, golf, or swim better. But this doesn't suggest that this is entirely or even partly genetic.

A high-income, well educated, healthy professional male is likely to have a vastly higher semen volume and sperm count than a low-income, uneducated, unhealthy male. We know that various nutritional and exercise regimes can increase seminal volume and sperm count. The question I guess is by how much - I'd be willing to bet that a man can vary his semen volume/sperm count by a wider range by adjusting diet/exercise than by changing his racial background.

Many of the semen quality improvement strategies also correlate with health and exercise strategies that wealthier people use. For instance, White Americans earn 50% more than Black Americans (while Asian Americans earn even more - no surprise their semen volumes/sperm counts are also high).

Vitamin D and Calcium is just one of the things that helps improve semen volume and sperm count for instance. A large proportion of African-Americans are Vit. D deficient, or are at least getting less than they would if they were living in Sub-Saharan Africa. -

Anonymous said...

So in summary, while I'm not suggesting that Blacks should genetically have the same, or even higher semen volume/quality. The comparison is not that useful for concluding biological differences. Sure it's good for addressing issues within particular communities like African-Americans living in California, or in the American South, or in the colder Mid-West and North East climates. But even then the problem is you have organisations focusing energy on the wrong things. This is the problem we have in the UK with racial groups. The blanket White, Black, Asian (South Asian) categories for grouping people cover widely different, contradictory demographics that you can't make much effective policy based on it. For instance: White British are predominantly British born, while White Eastern Europeans are predominantly foreign born. Black Africans are more educated, while Black Caribbeans more likely to date inter-racially. Indians are highly educated, while Pakistanis far less so. Then even within these groups Black Africans that are from Nigeria are vastly more educated than Black Africans that are from Somalia.

Anyway, I've digressed quite a bit, but I hope this provides another insight.

Again to reaffirm, I'm not stating that Blacks have a higher semen volume and sperm count than that stated. Just stating that more factors should be controlled for before doing such a study, even if the sole purpose is to assess the state of the current African-American and current non-Hispanic White population etc. I also wouldn't rule out the possibility that genetic Africans (i.e. those who are predominantly of Sub-Saharan African ancestry) naturally have lower semen volumes and sperm counts. There are different strategies for mating among the species and 'sub-species?'. Pigs may have sex just once and get pregnant ASAP? Why because they're ridiculously fertile - high quality, high sperm count (80 BILLION sperm per ejaculate). Humans don't have such a high sperm count, so men have got to do it more often, they need to get more aroused, they need to be smart enough to convince the woman to stick around long enough to get pregnant with them, and ideally not by another man. So while high sperm count on an individual basis may be useful. It's probably better for a population to have on average a lower, less quality sperm count as then the whole sperm-competition (or the dating game) can work effectively. There's a lot of factors to take into account, fertility experts don't have all the answers for infertility, some low-sperm count guys can be quite successful at siring a child, while some high sperm count guys can be quite unsuccessful. We're still discovering new things about the fundamental aspects of life and sex.

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Anonymous said...


All data suggest that US Blacks have MORE sex frequently than US Whites

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