Alcohol and male fertility – current science

"The dose makes the poison. We therefore recommend that men who contact our clinic limit alcohol, but not completely avoid alcohol, ”says Elena Ricci from Policlinico di Milano. It is estimated that around 15 percent of all couples remained unintentionally childless. In 30 percent of the cases, the cause of this was the man. The extent to which, in addition to genetic traits, environmental factors, diet and lifestyle are important for reduced fertility is still unclear.

In the cross-sectional study of the reproductive doctors in Milan, 323 men aged 39 years or older took part, whose desire to have children had not yet been fulfilled. They provided information about their consumption of alcohol, tobacco and caffeinated drinks as well as about their general diet and physical activities. Around 30 percent each drank up to 5 grams, 5 to 14 grams or more than 14 grams of alcohol. This corresponds to up to 3, 4 to 7 or more than 7 drinks per week, whereby one drink corresponds to one eighth liter of wine, 330 milliliters of beer or 30 milliliters of high-proof alcohol. About ten percent of men said they didn’t drink alcohol at all. There were no test subjects with excessive alcohol consumption of more than 25 drinks each week.

The group of subjects who treated themselves to 4 to 7 drinks a week produced the largest volume of ejaculate. Sperm concentration and total sperm count were also higher than those who drank very little alcohol. There was no connection between sperm motility and the amount of alcohol consumed. Older age was associated with lower, higher calorie foods and greater intake of caffeine with higher alcohol consumption. But even after taking these and other influencing factors into account, men with moderate alcohol consumption had them best Sperm quality. Since all of the test subjects were men who visited a fertility clinic, the results of this study strictly speaking only refer to men with potentially impaired sexual function, the authors concede.

A causal positive relationship between Alcohol consumption and sperm quality have not been proven, but are quite plausible, the researchers write. For example, wine and beer contained polyphenols such as resveratrol and xanthohumol, the health-promoting effects of which have been proven. These ingredients could have a positive effect on sexual function – provided that the harmful effects of very high amounts of alcohol do not outweigh them. Because excessive alcohol intake reduces testosterone production and male fertility.

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