Researchers at Guangzhou University, China had published a study several months ago in the Journal of Sexual Medicine about the effects of motor vehicle exhaust (VE) on erectile performance.
The results showed that air pollution negatively affects erectile function and general health which doesn’t sound good for us! The researchers chose to use VE as it was usually the main source of air pollution.
The study was done on healthy 12-week-old rats that were split into four groups of 10 individuals and they were exposed to different levels of VE over a three-month period to gauge the link between air pollution and impotence. It was discovered that the longer the rats were exposed to VE, the more problems they had getting erect.
The control group was not exposed to VE at all while the other three groups had to face VE for two hours, four hours, and six hours a day, five days a week, respectively. During each VE exposure periods, particulate matter (PM) mass concentrations of PM1, PM2.5, and PM10 were 1.43 ± 0.036, 1.45 ± 0.033, and 1.47 ± 0.037 mg/m3, respectively.
After three months of this, the researchers tested for erection function using electrical stimulation and lung function with a Forced Pulmonary Maneuver System.
Based on the results, they found that the rats that were exposed to VE for four or six hours had “significant reduction of erectile function” in terms of intracavernous pressure (ICP).
For the rats in the four-hour group, their ICP reduced as much as 38.6% while the rats in the six-hour group showed a reduction of 45.6% compared to the control group.
The team reasoned that this decrease in sexual performance is likely caused by systemic inflammation, pulmonary dysfunction, and reduced levels of nitric oxide synthase in the erectile tissue which can lead to erectile dysfunction. In addition, lung capacity was reduced, alveoli were destroyed and there were abnormal changes in penile tissue as well.
While there may be a link between air pollution from VE to sexual function, the researchers admitted that there need to be more studies done especially as the tests were performed in rats.
“The major limitation of our preliminary study is our VE exposure model, although traffic exhaust was the main source of urban air pollution, [we] could not entirely mimic the natural condition of ambient air pollution. On the other hand, we acknowledge that the concentration of the pollutants in our study is too high and lacks a ‘dose response,'” the team said.