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Study links air pollution to abnormally shaped sperm

Misshapen sperm could lead to infertility

flickr: Zappys Technology Solutions
What is your attitude towards guarding yourself against air pollution? You know where to get a fancy mask or an air purifier if you need one, but the air in Shanghai hasn't been too bad this year (or so you tell yourself at least), so a lot of the time you just don't bother. Well, now you might want to step up your anti-pollution game (and we're talking specifically to our male readers, here) as it has been found that air pollution can damage your sperm. Your sperm, lads. YOUR SPERM!

According to The Waijiao, a recently published study in Occupational and Environmental Medicine led by Xiang Qian Lao of the Chinese University of Hong Kong has found that air pollution can lead to men producing abnormally shaped sperm – decreased size; unusual shape – and that widespread damage could ultimately lead to infertility.

In a nutshell, the study – which examined 6,475 men aged 15-49 – found that men who breathe in more polluted air are more likely to have smaller and abnormally shaped swimmers. So it looks like air pollution is right up there with excessive exposure to radiation and that time you took a football to the bollocks in Year 10 PE on the list of things that may cause you to end up infertile.

via GIPHY


However, there may be no reason to worry. The research also found an increase in sperm count in those examined (possibly the body compensating for the damaged sperm), while the authors of the study also acknowledged that the change in sperm size being solely down to air pollution is unlikely.

BuzzFeed News spoke to scientists not involved in the study who said that sperm shape has no direct impact on one's fertility. 'Many doctors and scientists now believe that on its own poor sperm morphology is probably not as clinically relevant as we once thought it was,' said Allan Pacey, professor of andrology at the University of Sheffield in the UK.

'So, whilst the authors have found a potentially interesting biological result, I am not sure it is that clinically meaningful.'

Make of it what you will: does air pollution have an impact on your future chances of conception? Or is it all scaremongering? Our advice: maybe get yourself an air purifier for your bedroom for ease of mind. You could also just wait for the Shanghai Health 2030 plan to kick in – if you and your sperm are comfortable waiting that long...

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