Drinking and Its Effect on the Male Sperm

Drinking and Its Effect on the Male Sperm


According to some new British research, men who participate in binge drinking could actually be doing damage to their sperm. This study took 1,000 men from age 18 to age 28 and asked them some questions regarding their drinking habits. Additionally, these men were asked to provide semen and blood samples. The more alcohol an individual consumed, the lower the health of his sperm.

Drinking one glass of wine or beer- about 4-6 percent alcohol by volume – won’t have a negative effect on the health of sperm. However, drinking 25 or more drinks per week is where the most severe drop in the quality of sperm occurred. Men who drink 40 drinks per week had a drop in their sperm counts, as well as a significant drop in the number of “normal-looking” sperm.

Finally, too much alcohol can cause problems with the levels of specific sex hormones which regulate the production of healthy sperm. SHBG, or sex-hormone binding globulin- was much lower in those men who drank heavily versus those who drank moderately.

Other Effects of Alcohol on The Body

Some studies have revealed that moderate alcohol consumption actually has some beneficial effects on the coronary system. For healthy individuals, moderate consumption is no more than two drinks per day for men. Healthy means those who are not struggling with alcohol addiction, those who do not suffer from medical condition- as well as some other factors. The following are considered to be a “drink.”

  • 12 ounce beer
  • 4 to 5 ounces wine
  • 1.25 ounces of distilled liquor (80 proof)

However, even though these studies have revealed that it’s healthy to consume a moderate amount of alcohol, it still brings along with it a host of health risks.

  • Increases the risk of developing arthritis- especially gout.
  • Increases the risk of developing various cancers, including: breast, esophagus, larynx, liver, mouth, pancreas, pharynx, and rectum.
  • Increases risk of heart disease in heavy drinkers. However, as mentioned light to moderate drinkers typically experience lower rates of heart disease.
  • Increases risk of hyperglycemia by raising blood glucose levels.
  • Individuals with diabetes are at risk for developing hypoglycemia which as a reduction in blood glucose levels.
  • Increases risk of kidney disease and kidney failure.
  • Increases risk of liver disease, cirrhosis of the liver, and alcoholic hepatitis.
  • Increases risk of developing neuropathy and dementia, and causes an impairment in both memory and balance.
  • Increases the risk of psychological disturbances such as anxiety, depression, and even insomnia. 

Alcohol can also be a contributing factor, but is not a primary cause of obesity. Additionally, it can increase the risk of an individual developing protein energy malnutrition.

Factors that Can Negatively Impact Sperm Count

According to one study done in 2010, the “normal” sperm count is 15 million sperm in one milliliter of semen. Experts are concerned because sperm count is decreasing at a rate of about 1 to 2 percent per year, as observed in research over the last ten years.

There are many factors, besides excessive alcohol consumption, that could be causing this decrease. Following are some of the important ones.

  • Side effects of medications
  • Emotional stress
  • Physical stress
  • Substance abuse, such as cocaine or marijuana
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Malnutrition
  • Radiation
  • Excessive heat in the testicles
  • Being over or under weight
  • Varicocele (when the veins in the scrotum are abnormally enlarged)
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Deficiency in testosterone
  • Decreased levels of pituitary hormones
  • Cycling
  • Heavy metal exposure
  • Exposure to specific pesticides
  • Soy Products
  • Lubricants and saliva
  • Excessive use of computers and cell phones

Though there seems to be an abundance of factors that can decrease sperm count and health, there are also a few things that can have a positive impact both the quality and the quantity of sperm.

Typically, men tend to have a much higher sperm count in the mornings than in the evenings. Additionally, men are typically more aroused first thing in the morning than after a long day at work.

Many times, men who have low sperm counts are advised to abstain to improve it. However, new research has proven that while abstaining will improve sperm count, too much abstinence will actually lower the quality of sperm. Daily ejaculations will actually improve the quality, even if not the quantity of sperm produced. The thought process is that regular ejaculation will get rid of old sperm and makes room for the new, healthy sperm.

Folic acid can definitely help to increase the quality and quantity of sperm. Research has revealed that men with low levels of folate in their diet tend to have much higher rates of abnormal sperm.

As this research shows, moderate use of alcohol is perfectly fine, but binge drinking is never a good idea- it not only impacts sperm health, but brings with it a host of other health issues. Additionally, there are many other things that affect the quality and quantity of sperm- as well as few things you can do to positively impact quality and quantity of sperm. 

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