Could Air Pollution Be Affecting Your Fertility?

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Photo: Courtesy of Laura Vinck

Air pollution continues to be a problem around the world, no matter where you live. What was once a concern in the back of our minds has now moved to the forefront of the conversation — and for good reason. Air pollution is not only affecting our planet; it’s also affecting our bodies. Especially for those of us living in cities, air pollution continues to worsen as traffic increases, construction expands, and new manufacturing plants are built. For some, air pollution causes breathing issues such as asthma. For others, there is the concern of increased cancer rates. But that’s not all. 

A study presented at the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology just this past month found that air pollution has an adverse effect on women’s fertility. In the study, researchers looked at the anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH), which indicates a woman’s ovarian reserve and whether or not she is fertile. The researchers reviewed the AMH levels of 1,300 women over ten years, comparing them to the air quality in their respective environments by measuring particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide levels in the air. 

What they discovered was a correlation between the level of AMH in a woman’s body and the air’s quality. As AMH levels decrease because of air pollution, so does a women’s chances of getting pregnant. Not only can increased air pollution negatively affect a woman’s fertility, but it has also been found to decrease sperm quality in men. 

Dr. Antonio La Marca, the lead study author and an OBGYN professor at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia in Italy, explained, “Living in an area associated with high levels of air pollutants in our study increased the risk of severely reduced ovarian reserve by a factor of two or three.”

With air pollution being a growing problem in our world, studies like this one are an important part of keeping the conversation going. Public awareness of this issue is key to ensuring our air quality does not worsen past this point. If you’re someone who’s concerned about your fertility, educate yourself as much as you can about your environment’s impact on your body.