Sperm: Usually so beautiful, right? (Not really, but just go with it.) But in China, pollution is making sperm so long and gross that it’s a wonder anyone is having sex at all.

Li Zheng, the director of Shanghai’s biggest sperm bank, discovered the fugly sperm as part of a decade-long study on male infertility. Thanks to poor air quality, Chinese men’s sperm is weird-looking and sometimes doesn’t even swim at all. Writes Quartz:

The just-completed research found that two-thirds of the semen specimens at Shanghai’s biggest sperm bank failed to meet World Health Organization sperm-count standards.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

It’s just like that Flannery O’Connor short story, “A Good Sperm Is Hard To Find.” As a result, Chinese women are turning to what all those after-school specials warned us about: THE UNDERGROUND SPERM SCENE.

Quality problems aside, China has long grappled with a donor shortage … sperm are so scarce that women will pay up to 30,000 yuan ($4,900) for sperm on China’s booming black market.

But don’t let these sperm problems make you feel impotent. They’re just another reason to push for aggressive pollution regulations.

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.