Noise can be annoying when you’re trying to fall asleep, but could it also be responsible for infertility problems in men? A new study published in Environmental Pollution last month says it’s likely.
Researchers from the Seoul National University in the Republic of Korea found that a significant increase in infertility can occur when men are exposed to noise above the average level of a suburban street at night (55dB, according to the the WHO night noise level).
One in six couples around the world are affected by temporary or permanent infertility problems at least once in their lives, which is often caused by factors like genetics, exposure to infectious disease, environment or behavior.
"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. "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."
Previous research has shown a link between exposure to noise and birth-related problems, like premature birth, spontaneous abortion and congenital malformations, but this new study covering eight years of data from 206,492 men aged 20-59, showed that the risk of infertility was significantly higher in men who were exposed to noise levels above that of an air conditioner overnight.
So aspiring fathers in noisy neighborhoods might want to invest in earplugs to give themselves and their sperm a good night's sleep.