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How does air pollution affect sperm?

How does air pollution affect sperm?

The researchers note that air pollutants can reduce sperm quality and spermatogenesis, leading to difficulties conceiving.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the global infertility rate is 15%, which means that around 60-80 million couples are infertile, of which male infertility accounts for 40-70%. Experts say that human reproductive health faces great challenges due to many factors, including genetics, environment, lifestyle, and psychology. In particular, air pollutants have a negative impact on sperm quality.

In a study published in the Journal of General Environmental Science, scientists evaluated the effects of air pollutants on semen parameters and male infertility. The study was conducted in 3,940 men in China, aged 22-49, enrolled between November 2018 and April 2021. Semen samples were collected from the participants and 8 semen parameters were analyzed: semen volume, sperm concentration, total sperm count, progressive motility, total motility, vitality, sperm morphology, strain index.





[Caption].  Photo: Freepik

Air pollutants can damage sperm, causing infertility in men. Image: freepik

During the 12-month study, during follow-up, infertility rates were assessed among participants who had intercourse for one year but were unable to conceive. Machine learning algorithms were used to estimate the concentrations of many air pollutants and assign them to each person. The pollutants included in the analysis were PM2.5, PM10, SO2, NO2, O3 and CO. Statistical analyzes were performed to determine the relationship between each air pollutant and semen parameters, the overall impact, and the effect of pollutant-induced semen damage on male infertility.

These exposures were divided into four phases of sensitization: complete spermatogenesis, epididymal storage, sperm motility development, and spermatogenesis. The results indicated a significant negative effect of SO2 and O3 on progressive sperm morphology, motility, and vitality, respectively. While PM2.5, PM10 and NO2 showed an association with sperm morphology, O3 and NO2 were associated with sperm malformation index.

The results also indicate that different air pollutants have different ranges of sensitization. The effects of SO2 and O3 on sperm morphology and motility, as well as on vitality, respectively, were observed throughout the entire period of spermatogenesis (90 days). The effects of PM and NO2 on sperm morphology and sperm malformation index were observed during spermatogenesis. Regarding the sperm malformation index, the effects of PM and O3 on the epididymal reserve and the development of sperm motility, respectively, were observed.

In addition, the researchers analyzed the relationship between pollutants and infertility risk and found that SO2-induced changes in sperm morphology significantly increased the risk of male infertility. Specifically, the shape sperm The modified changes represent about 60% of the total effect of SO2 on male fertility.

Experts say they need deep studies with the number of people, samples sperm larger and more diverse to clearly define the relationship between air pollution and semen parameters.

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