Men living in heavily polluted cities are more likely to experience premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction compared to those living in more rural areas, a new study has shown.

Researchers from Anhui Medical University in China have found that men with an extroverted personality and a normal BMI are also most at risk of ejaculating early and struggling to get, or maintain, an erection.

More than 5,000 men took part in the study which saw scientists questioning them about their overall health, including their sexual function.

The academics looked at six pollutants close to the participant’s homes, which included particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM2.5), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

According to the researchers, all three of these pollutants are associated with an increased risk of dementia and cardiovascular disease.

Emitted by wood-burning stoves and car exhausts, the particles can travel deep into the bloodstream and lungs because they are so small.

The results show that men who were frequently exposed to the highest average NO2 levels suffered the most from erectile dysfunction.

Each participant filled in a survey to outline how often they get erect and if they have any problems maintaining them and was then given a score out of 25. The study recorded the highest NO2 levels at 30 μg/m3.

Laws in the UK outline that hourly levels of toxic NO2 must not rise above 40 µg/m3 more than 18 times a year, but according to air quality tracking tools this limit is often broken in parts of London.

The men with the highest PM2.5 levels were more likely to ejaculate before they desire compared to those with lower levels, the study has reported.

Pollutants may affect men’s sex lives because they can trigger an inflammatory response which constricts blood vessels.

The authors said: “The effect of pollution on sexual function was strongest among men with a normal BMI, who were extroverted and smoked or drank alcohol.

“Individuals with a normal BMI are likely to engage in more outdoor activities compared to overweight men. And previous research has indicated that people who spend more time outdoors have increased exposure to air pollutants.”

Pollution is thought to kill seven million people every year and the World Health Organization has urged countries to take action on their high pollution levels.

Roughly four million men in the UK are affected by erectile dysfunction and one in 10 will experience the condition at some point during their life. Viagra is a common drug that is used to manage erectile dysfunction.

Previous research studies have found that erectile dysfunction can be a sign of cardiovascular disease.

Read the study in the Journal of Hazardous Materials.

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