Male infertility is on the rise, and nobody's really sure why, but a new study has added another piece to the puzzle. The research suggests that noisy sleeping environments may contribute to male infertility, and also suggests that it doesn’t take that much nighttime noise to disrupt a man’s ability to reproduce.

The study, published online in Environmental Pollution, found that long-term exposure to a noisy environment, particularly at night when you are trying to go to sleep, may contribute to this growing problem. The study suggests that a noise level of 55dB, equivalent to the sounds of a suburban street, may be all that is needed to cause infertility in men. However, the study didn't reveal exactly how noise affected male fertility.

Read: Causes Of Male Infertility: Going To Bed After Midnight Harms Healthy Sperm Via Anti-Sperm Antibody

"Infertility is becoming a significant public health issue because of unexpected adverse effects on the health and quality of life and heavy expenditures on the health system," said Dr. Jin-Young Min, the study's co-author, in a recent statement on ScienceDaily. "We know noise exposure has an effect on male fertility in animals, but our study is the first to show the risk of exposure to environmental noise on male infertility in humans."

For the study, the team from Seoul National University in the Republic of Korea analyzed the health records of 206,492 men between the ages of 20 and 59. Using this information, they calculated the levels of noise exposure the men were likely subjected to using the National Noise Information System. Using these tools, the team found that men exposed to noise over 55 dB at night were significantly more likely to be diagnosed as infertile. At first, this link was not apparent, but when the team adjusted for other factors such as BMI, smoking status, age and overall income, the link between fertility and nighttime noise became more apparent.

"One of the biggest problems the world is facing today is environmental pollution; my special concern is what Theo Colborn described in her book 'Our Stolen Future': that the rapid decline in men's sperm counts in the 20th century was due to environmental pollution," added Min. "If this trend continues, humans in the future will not be able to have normal pregnancy and childbirth. If you are a man and suffer from infertility, you need to consider exposure to environmental pollution as a risk factor."

In addition to having a noisy sleeping environment, another recent study suggests that going to bed too late may also have an adverse affect on male fertility. The research, published online in Medical Science Monitor, found that going to bed late and sleeping for less time can destroy healthy sperm and result in male infertility. The researchers suspect this may be because sleeping too late could trigger a sperm “antibody” that destroys otherwise healthy sperm. Higher levels of this antibody would make it difficult for healthy sperm to reach a woman’s egg for fertilization.

Source: Min KB, Min JY. Exposure to environmental noise and risk for male infertility: A population-based cohort study. Environmental Pollution . 2017

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