Alcohol And Fertility
Recent studies suggest that even moderate alcohol consumption of less than 5 drinks a week can significantly impair fertility by reducing male sperm quality. If you are a male of reproductive age, you should consider this evidence when making lifestyle choices. One large study published in the British medical journal found that quantity, size, and shape of sperm were affected in a proportional manner to alcohol consumption in a group of healthy young military recruits. With heavier alcohol use, sperm quality diminished even further. Men who drank more than 40 drinks each week had 33% less sperm and as many as 51% fewer sperm that could be considered normal size and shape. Some experts suggest that men considering conception age should avoid consumption of more than three or four alcoholic drinks weekly.
One of the effects of even moderate levels of alcohol consumption a rapid change in the levels of sex hormone production. In men who drank alcohol, testosterone levels rose but levels of binding proteins for testosterone fell. Binding proteins are necessary for a hormone to have an effect on a cell. Testosterone is necessary for function of the male reproductive system, but without binding proteins, testosterone cannot be effectively utilized.
What Does Science Say?
Scientists have pointed out that some studies about the effects of alcohol and fertility have been conflicting. Even men who don’t drink may have abnormal sperm counts or abnormal sperm morphology (appearance.) Although some studies show a relationship between the amount of alcohol consumed and sperm quality or quantity, further research is needed to make a definitive recommendation about the effects of alcohol on fertility.
If you are considering conception, you should consider the possibility that alcohol reduces fertility. Although the evidence is mixed, moderation should be a minimal goal. Alcohol has effects on many bodily functions, including sexual function, desire, and interpersonal relationships. Heavy drinking has multiple adverse effects, making moderation a logical choice at any stage of life.