Moderate alcohol consumption may lower sperm quality
Men who consume even moderate amounts of alcohol may have lower sperm quality than men who consume little or no alcohol, according to new research.
Scientists at the University of Southern Denmark analyzed data on more than 1,200 Danish men between ages 18 and 28. The men gave a semen sample and a blood sample and had all been given a medical exam between 2008 and 2012. They were then asked to complete questionnaires about how much alcohol they consumed before the exam, how often they binge drank—or drank more than five alcoholic beverages in one sitting—and how many times they had been drunk in the previous month.
The researchers found that the men who had consumed alcohol in the week before the medical exam showed changes in reproductive hormone levels, including a decrease in the sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). They also found that the more the men drank, the lower their sperm quality was, including lower total sperm count and more sperm of irregular size and shape.
The study was strictly observational, so no direct cause-and-effect relationship could be established. Other findings were also left without an explanation, such as men who abstained from alcohol also having lower sperm quality. The researchers said that while they have yet to determine whether sperm quality and alcohol intake is directly related, men should be be aware that alcohol consumption may affect both their general and reproductive health.