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Can drinking alcohol affect your fertility?

Last updated on: March 16, 2011 10:21 IST

Can drinking alcohol affect your fertility?


Are you a drink lover? No, you need not worry from a social point of view! Today, drinking has become a way of socialisation and you can expect the availability of hard drinks in every occasion -- birthdays, anniversaries, wedding receptions, official parties and even in normal get-togethers organised at home!

Drinking has become a part and parcel of the modern lifestyle. So the taboo related with drinking is vanishing day by day.

But the effects of excessive intake of alcohol on health remain the same -- it can affect male fertility.

Men tend to show a greater liking for drinking, but they need to pay a price for that -- their potency!

The question is, how much of alcohol per day can affect your fertility. Research has concluded that 4 ounces or around 120 ml of alcohol per day can go a long way to affect the male reproductive health.

So when you are enjoying a so-called 'dreamy' evening with alcoholic beverages, you are not realising that your 'dreams' might get shattered very soon! You might lose your fertility.

How does alcohol affect male fertility?

Research has established the low-risk drinking level for men. The figure stands at four or fewer standard drinks per day and less than 14 drinks per week.

But taking four drinks per day would amount to 28 drinks a week, which will exceed the standard of 14 drinks per week. So, two or fewer drinks per day can be taken as a safer option. It is a case of alcoholism if the intake exceeds this standard.

1. Drinking of excess amount of alcohol may increase the production of estrogen by the liver, affecting the development of sperms. Also, alcohol, being a toxin, can destroy the sperm producing cells in the testicle.

Chronic alcoholism can cause testicular atrophy (a reduction in the size of testes) and gynecomastia (abnormal breast development in men). Men, who are alcoholics, often show a lack of sexual interest.

2. Excessive consumption of alcohol can affect the testicles adversely. It can effectively change the structure of the testicles, leading to a fall in the Serum Testosterone level.

Testosterone is the male reproductive hormone and a fall in the level of testosterone can cause male infertility.

3. Sperm density or sperm count has an influence on male fertility. The toxic effects of alcohol can diminish the sperm count.

Normally, a single ejaculation has a volume of 3 ml and there can be 120 million sperm cells in 1 ml. But alcohol consumption can cause a dire reduction in these figures.

4. A sperm is characterized by its regular oval-shaped head and a straight tail. But excessive intake of alcohol can lead to the synthesis of abnormal sperm cells with deformed head and tail. This changed shape of a sperm cell reduces its possibility of fertilizing an egg cell.

A sperm cell needs approximately three months to get matured. So a man needs to stop drinking three months before he wants his partner to conceive. You can opt for a semen analysis test to know your fertility status.

Alcoholism would not only affect your internal reproductive health, but would also affect your conjugal life as well! How long would your partner tolerate a lack of libido?

Photographs: Rediff Archives
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