Study: Smoking, Drinking May Not Harm Male Fertility

Researchers in the United Kingdom have made some surprising findings when it comes to lifestyle changes that have long been believed to help improve male fertility.  Smoking, drinking, and body weight were found in a recent study to have no impact on fertility–and in fact, if couples delay treatment while waiting for the male partner to improve on these measures, their chances of achieving a pregnancy might actually decline because time continues to go by.  Time.com reports:

Based on the data, researchers further found that lifestyle factors like use of recreational drugs, smoking, drinking and body weight had little effect. For instance, the proportion of men with low swimming sperm counts was similar whether they smoked over 20 cigarettes a day or if they had never smoked before. Alcohol use was also unrelated to fertility among men.

“The message of ‘No smoking, drinking in moderation, no street drugs and not be too overweight’ is clearly sound and should be offered to men as good health advice,” says study author Dr. Andrew Povey of University of Manchester’s School of Community Based Medicine. ”However, the evidence from this study is that even if the man changes his lifestyle in such a fashion, such changes are unlikely to improve his chances of conceiving a child.”

The findings came as a surprise to the researchers. “I expected to find a link with smoking, as studies have often reported that smoking is bad for semen quality,” says Povey. “When I looked again at the evidence for such statements, I found that it wasn’t necessarily that strong and that if there was an effect of smoking, it was more likely to occur within the normal range of semen quality and not then directly affect whether a man was likely to be infertile or not.”

Image: Man drinking alcohol, via Shutterstock
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  1. by Sam

    On June 15, 2012 at 8:38 am

    I must say I agree with the study, for my personal experience.
    My husband had used recreational drugs for many, many years, drinks regularly & smokes on occasions. We have had no trouble conceiving any of our children. In fact this is my fifth pregnancy. I do believe we are both very blessed to be so fertile and I don’t believe his lifestyle choices have impacted on his fertility in anyway.
    I can’t speak on behalf of others obviously. But for us, drugs, alcohol and cigarettes have not impacted my husbands sperm count or mobility.