Can cutting out alcohol, smoking, drugs, and losing weight improve men’s fertility?

When trying to become pregnant, in order to improve the quality of “swimming sperm” men are often encouraged to cut out or reduce their alcohol intake, smoking, and use of recreational drugs. They are also urged to avoid being overweight. However, a recent study challenges these common recommendations, suggesting that men with unhealthy lifestyles are just as likely to be fertile as those who are living healthy lifestyles.

Research conducted in Britain and published recently in Human Reproduction compared lifestyle information between men with low numbers of swimming sperm and those who had higher numbers. Surprisingly, excessive weight, and use of tobacco, alcohol, and recreational drugs made little difference in the numbers of swimming sperm.

The study’s lead researcher, Dr. Andrew Povey said that their results “suggest that many lifestyle choices probably have little influence on how many swimming sperm they have.” However, co-researcher Dr. Allan Pacey cautioned that men should still take care of themselves as it remains possible that lifestyle factors like alcohol use, smoking, and using recreational drugs could affect other aspects of sperm quality (such as the size or shape of sperm).

The research findings suggests that men may want to reduce their weight and eliminate these less healthy lifestyle habits when trying to conceive. However, in cases where couples are facing fertility challenges, delaying fertility treatments in order to make these lifestyle changes may not increase a couple’s chance of conception.

Read more about how cigarettes and marijuana can affect a man’s fertility here.

Read a summary of the research here: Drinking, smoking, or being overweight does harm men’s fertility [Daily Mail]

Read the Human Reproduction research article abstract here.



2 Responses to “Can cutting out alcohol, smoking, drugs, and losing weight improve men’s fertility?”

  1. Genna says:

    As my husband and I begin the process of trying to have kids, I’ve really only been focusing on my own health/lifestyle choices/eating habits etc. To be honest, it’s been a little stressful, feeling like I’m solely responsible for the success of the conception and the health of the baby! I didn’t even really consider the impact of my husband’s health and behaviours. I think we’ll need to have a discussion about this!

  2. Tess says:

    Although I’ve never heard much about this topic, it makes a lot of sense. In my opinion, too much information about fertility is focused on women. It’s like we forget that there is another person (i.e., a partner!) who can have an effect on conception and the health of a baby. My partner actually does use certain substances semi-regularly, and I worry that it might impede our chances of having kids. We likely won’t try for awhile, but I do worry that he won’t quit.

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