Does Alcohol Affect Male Fertility?

Does Drinking Alcohol Affect Male Fertility???

The harmful effects of drinking are mostly focused on females. It should be known that it affects men as well. Drinking alcohol in excess can cause infertility in both men and women.

Effect of Alcohol on Sperm and Male Fertility

Having a drink or 2 socially is very common. But those drinking heavily have numerous health effects.

In a survey done in 2015, it was found, those above 18 years binge drink in the past month.(1)

Studies show heavy drinking or binge drinking can have negative effects on sperm.(2)

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention excessive drinking means:(3)

  • Males: 5 or more drinks on an occasion is called binge drinking. 15 or more drinks in a week come under heavy drinking. Drinking alcohol below 21 years is called underage drinking.
  • Females: 4 or more drinks on an occasion is called binge drinking. 8 or more drinks per week come under heavy drinking. Drinking any alcohol under 21 years of age is called underage drinking. Drinking during pregnancy is called pregnancy drinking.

Alcohol can affect sperm count and alter fertility.

Heavy drinking affects fertility in the following ways:(4)

  • It lowers the testosterone level, luteinizing hormone, and follicle-stimulating hormone and raises the estrogen level. This reduces the sperm count.
  • It leads to the shrinking of testes that can lead to impotency and infertility.
  • It changes the gonadotropin release that impacts the production of sperms.(5)
  • It can lead to early ejaculation or decreased ejaculation.
  • It can affect the shape, size, and movement of healthy sperms.

Sometimes people combine marijuana or opioids with alcohol. This can also lower fertility.

Excessive drinking leads to liver disease that can also be a cause of affected sperm quality.(6)

Exposure to alcohol in early developmental years and also later in life can lead to changes in DNA. This can lead to alcohol use disorder or inherited health problems.(7) However, more research is needed on this concept to validate it.

Still, the good news is that the changes that occur in the sperms due to excessive drinking are reversible. It takes around 3 months for the return of healthy sperm production once the alcohol consumption stops.(8)

Alcohol and Female Fertility

Alcohol can lower fertility in females as well. A study showed drinking regularly can affect fertility by interrupting the menstrual cycle and ovulation. This can lead to changes in ovarian function and cause amenorrhea and anovulation. It also affects the level of testosterone, estradiol, and luteinizing hormone and can also cause hyperprolactinemia or high prolactin in the blood.(9)

Exposure to alcohol during pregnancy can also lead to harmful effects such as fetal alcohol syndrome.(10)

How Can You Boost Fertility?

A healthy lifestyle can be a booster for fertility. Stress, overweight, smoking, anxiety and excessive drinking can affect fertility.

A study showed those who eat a healthy Mediterranean diet had a healthy sperm quality.(11) It is important that you discuss the nutritional needs with an expert and focus on eating a healthy balanced diet.

Exercising regularly can boost testosterone levels and help in boosting fertility. Men who exercise regularly have a better semen quality than inactive men.(12)

Practicing stress management keeps the cortisol levels in check. Getting a good night’s sleep also keeps a check on the stress levels.

When to Consult a Doctor?

There are numerous factors that play a role in affecting male fertility. Advice from a healthcare professional can help in giving a specific understanding about different individuals.

Male hormone analysis and semen analysis can help in identifying the underlying issues related. Also, home care kits are available that can make you aware of the sperm count, but lack in identifying the reason for infertility and quality and movement of sperm.

When starting to plan a family, first start with a healthy lifestyle. Moderate the alcohol consumption so that it does not become a hurdle in your plans and this applies to both males and females. Consult a doctor if there are any fertility issues.

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