By Sally Robertson, medwireNews Reporter
Alcohol drinking and smoking seem to have no significant impact on male fertility, report researchers.
J Rhemrev (Bronovo Hospital, the Hague, the Netherlands) and team found no difference in smoking and drinking habits between a group of 42 asthenozoospermic men and a group of 121 fertile men. Moreover, no correlations were found between semen parameters, alcohol intake, and smoking.
"Smoking and alcohol intake are… possible risk factors that influence male fertility, sperm parameters, and reproductive outcomes," notes the team. "To date, there is still no conclusive agreement about the effects of cigarette smoking and alcohol use on these factors and thus no generally accepted guideline."
As reported in Andrologia, questionnaires distributed to the men at enrollment revealed no difference in moderate smoking (1-9 cigarettes), mediate smoking (10-19), or heavy smoking (20 or more) between the infertile and fertile men. Nor was there any difference in moderate alcohol intake (1-6 units), mediate intake (7-20), or heavy intake (≥21) of alcohol.
No significant correlation was observed between the number of cigarettes smoked per day and any of the following semen parameters: seminal volume, sperm count, progressive motile spermatozoa, motile spermatozoa, and morphologically normal spermatozoa. In addition, there was no significant effect of smoking status on pregnancy rate.
Similarly, no correlation was observed between drinking status and the five semen parameters or pregnancy outcome.
Furthermore, regression analysis showed that the effect of alcohol intake and cigarette smoking combined also had no significant effect on semen parameters or pregnancy outcome, after adjustment for confounding factors including age and body mass index.
"The fact is that discussion continues on the effects of alcohol and cigarette smoking on male fertility," say Rhemrev et al.
"Reasons for this overall disagreement could be small sample sizes used in studies, the difference in patient populations, that is, fertile, subfertile and infertile men, the socioeconomic and environmental factors of the different countries where the studies were conducted, the frequently found correlation between alcohol intake and smoking and thus the lack of control over confounding variables."
"Further research with larger groups, or meta-analysis, is needed on this subject before any conclusions can be drawn on whether cigarette smoking and alcohol have a negative effect on the fertilizing capacity of spermatozoa," concludes the team.
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