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How male fertility is affected by smoke, alcohol, drugs


Researchers from the Sapienza University of Rome and University of Naples Federico II conducted a literature review on the potential impacts of an unhealthy lifestyle on male fertility. The study, published in the journal Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, focused on three of the most common unhealthy habits: tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption, and drug addiction.

  • More than one-third of all male adults worldwide use tobacco. Researchers have found a significant link between lifetime smoking and seminal plasma lead levels.
  • Evidence shows that metals found in tobacco all have mutagenic properties and are similarly associated with increased risk of male infertility.
  • Meanwhile, an analysis on the seminal fluid and hormonal evaluation of 20 subjects with alcohol dependence syndrome shows a significant decrease in testosterone levels, seminal fluid volume, and sperm concentration.
  • A prospective autopsy study shows that 52.3 percent of heavy drinkers had partial or complete spermatogenic arrest, as well as reduced testicular weight.
  • Similarly, tests on chronic alcoholics show a significant decrease in semen volume, sperm count, motility, and number of morphologically normal sperm.
  • Recreational drug abuse, such as cannabis smoking, has been shown to affect the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal axis, spermatogenesis, and sperm function, as cannabinoid receptors are expressed in the anterior pituitary, Leydig cells, Sertoli cells and in testicular tissues.
  • Similarly, negative effects on male fertility have been reported in subjects using cocaine, MDMA (ecstasy) and opioids.

The above-mentioned impairments have been observed in humans and animal models alike. The researchers note that the discontinuation of tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption and drug use may be the best course of action to take by patients undergoing investigation for infertility.

Find the full text of the study at this link.

Journal Reference:

Sansone A, Dato CD, Angelis CD, Menafra D, Pozza C, Pivonello R, Isidori A, Gianfrilli D. SMOKE, ALCOHOL AND DRUG ADDICTION AND MALE FERTILITY. Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology. 2018;16(1). DOI: 10.1186/s12958-018-0320-7

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