Shanghai doctor tells local newspaper that two thirds of the city’s semen stocks are below World Health Organisation standards, as concerns over China’s toxic environment grow
Shanghai’s semen is facing an unprecedented crisis with experts labelling pollution as one of the “major culprits” for the mega-city’s increasingly dismal sperm quality, Chinese media claimed.
Only one-third of the semen at Shanghai’s main sperm bank meets World Health Organisation standards, the Shanghai Morning Post reported on Thursday.
Li Zheng, a sperm expert from the Urology department at Shanghai’s Renji Hospital, told the newspaper he was “very worried” about how male infertility rates were “increasing year on year”.
“If we don’t protect the environment now, mankind will face a worsening infertility predicament,” Dr Li, who also runs the sperm bank, was quoted as saying.
A 2012 study, coordinated by Dr Li, concluded that over the last 10 years worsening environmental conditions had closely mirrored the falling quality of sperm. Low sperm counts and aspermia, a condition that causes a man to produce no semen at all, were among the problems.
“When the environment is bad, sperm becomes “ugly” and even stops swimming,” Dr Li said, adding: “To find out whether an eco-system is stable or not, just examine the sperm.”
The Shanghai Morning Post urged its readers to lead greener lives in order to protect future generations.
“In the view of reproductive health experts, loving the earth means loving oneself and, what’s more, loving the next generation.”
Reports of a potential link between Shanghai’s semen crisis and air and water pollution came as thick smog enveloped China’s financial capital.
Shanghai’s air quality levels were around twice as bad than those in Beijing on Thursday, with city authorities urging schools to cancel outdoor activities.
Levels of the dangerous air-borne particle called PM2.5 rose as high as 312 in Shanghai on Thursday morning, according to aqicn.org, a pollution monitoring website.
Last December, state news agency Xinhua said that China’s infertility rate had risen to around 12.5 per cent of people of childbearing age compared to just three per cent two decades earlier. Doctors said part of the blame lay with stress, street pollution and living conditions.
In September, three respected academic institutions, including the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, announced that in 2014 they would launch a five-year study of the connection between female infertility and pollution.
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