Drinking alcohol — even in moderation — can have a dramatic effect on the reproductive system. It can impact hormone production and decrease semen parameters such as sperm count, motility, morphology, and concentration. A large Danish study of healthy young men between the ages of found that even modest drinking habits — as little as 5 drinks per week — can negatively affect the amount of sperm produced , the concentration of sperm per milliliter of semen, and the morphology of sperm a measure of how well-formed the sperm are. As you might expect, the more alcohol a person drinks regularly, the more serious the effects on sperm quality. The same study showed that the most significant impairment in sperm quality was found in men who regularly drank more than 25 drinks per week.
In , 80 countries published national alcohol policies, while a further eight countries had regional policies and 11 others had a total ban on alcohol. Guidelines generally give recommended amounts measured in grams g of pure alcohol because of differences in the size of alcoholic drinks and different definitions of alcohol units worldwide. The NHS in the UK recommends that men should not regularly drink more than units g of alcohol per day and women should not regularly drink more than units per day. A unit is 8 grams of pure alcohol according to the NHS [ 2 ]. In Denmark, the national recommendation is that women should consume no more than 7 units 84g per week and men no more than 14 g. Two examples of standard drinks are: 1 a bottle of ml beer at 4.
Diana Lucia does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. The main concern surrounding alcohol exposure during pregnancy often relates to well-established evidence of newborns developing a range of behavioural, physical and cognitive disabilities later in life. But recent research is also pointing to a link between alcohol and poor sperm development , meaning the onus is on expectant fathers too. A myriad of studies are showing biological fathers who drink alcohol may have a significant role in causing health problems in their children. Studies are showing paternal alcohol consumption has negative effects at all levels of the male reproductive system. This is as well as altered neurological, behavioural and biochemical outcomes in subsequent generations.
Log in Advanced Search. Drinking a moderate amount of alcohol, equivalent to two pints a week, has been linked to higher sperm quality than lower or higher alcohol intake. A study of men in Italy, published in the journal Andrology , found that drinking units of alcohol per week was associated with greater semen volume and total sperm count, compared with those who drank units or more than 8 units a week. The men in the study had a mean age of In a questionnaire on their lifestyle factors, 10 percent of the men said they abstained from alcohol entirely, 30 percent said they drank units a week, 30 percent said units a week and 30 percent said more than 8 units a week. After accounting for factors known to affect male fertility — including BMI, smoking, caffeine intake and levels of physical activity — the study found men drinking a moderate amount had the higher measures for two out of four measures of sperm quality sperm volume and sperm count compared with men who had lower or higher alcohol intake.
Alcohol | Your Fertility
Even drinking lightly can reduce the chance of pregnancy. Heavy drinking increases the time it takes to get pregnant and reduces the chances of having a healthy baby. It is not clear how drinking small amounts of alcohol affects unborn babies but it is well known that drinking high amounts can be harmful. A woman should stop drinking alcohol once she is pregnant, but until then there is no reason to stop.
Does Alcohol Kill Sperm? And Other Fertility Facts
So why does alcohol cut your chances of having a baby? The Chief Medical Officers' alcohol unit guidelines does not have specific advice on the effects of alcohol on fertility. But they do have specific guidelines for those trying to conceive. Recent reviews have shown that the risks of low birth weight, preterm birth, and being small for gestational age all may increase in mothers drinking above one to two units a day during pregnancy.
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