Many men who are facing "male factor infertility" because their sperm's size and shape is not of a high enough quality to fertilize a woman's egg and help her become pregnant turn to lifestyle changes like losing weight or quitting smoking or drinking alcohol. But a new study published in the journal Human Reproduction has found that those lifestyle adjustments--while a good idea for men who want to be healthier and lower their risk of other health conditions--aren't likely to help solve their sperm quality issues.
Other factors, including smoking marijuana, were found to lower sperm quality, as was collecting samples during the hot summer months. And the size and shape of sperm--known as "morphology"--was better among men who had abstained from sexual activity for a few days before collection. Reuters has more:
The researchers found that men were about twice as likely to have abnormal sperm if the sample was collected during the summer. They were also more likely to have abnormal sperm if they were young and smoked marijuana.
Although most other medical and lifestyle factors, such as cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption, didn't seem to be linked to sperm morphology, Smith said he still would advise his patients to be as healthy as possible.
"Marijuana is certainly a potential worrisome risk factor for hurting sperm quality," he said. "I'd tell my patients to stop smoking marijuana. I wouldn't say to my patient to go out and do whatever you want because it won't make a difference. To me, that would be overstating those results."
The researchers also caution that the men included in the study may not be representative of all couples with fertility problems.
Smith said a better study would be to focus on whether the couples went on to conceive a child.
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