The question about whether or not alcohol consumption affects male fertility is difficult to answer because the medical literature in this area has been mixed. A new study from Italy, published in the journal Andrology, is suggesting that a moderate amount of alcohol by men may actually boost male fertility.
The study looked at the semen analyses of 323 men with varying average alcohol consumption. 9.6% of the men abstained completely from alcohol, 30% drank less than 1-3 units of alcohol per week, 30.3% drank 4-7 units per week, and 30% drank greater than or equal to 8 units per week. One unit was defined as 125 mL of wine or 330 mL of beer or 30 mL of hard alcohol.
The study found that men who drank 4-7 units of alcohol per week (the equivalent of 2-4 pints of beer or half to three-quarters of a bottle of wine) had higher semen volume and total sperm count than men who drank less than 1-3 units of alcohol per week.
Based on this study, men would not need to completely abstain from alcohol when trying to conceive. This study does not give the green light to excessive alcohol or binge drinking though. The researchers emphasized that anything more than moderate alcohol intake could be harmful. They pointed out a Danish study from 2014 that showed that excessive alcohol consumption reduced sperm count by 33 percent.
“Moderate alcohol intake appears positively associated to semen quality in men. They are counselled to limit but not avoid alcohol,” said lead study author Elena Ricci, of Ca’ Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico hosptital in Milan.
At Reproductive Partners, we give similar advice to male partners. Alcohol does not need to be avoided completely, but should not be excessive. For more information about how lifestyle choices can affect fertility, visit our Lifestyle and Fertility page.