Here at Manchester Fertility around a third of cases we treat are caused by male factor infertility – it’s more common than many men would think.
But according to a new study, lifestyle factors such as smoking and drinking don’t harm sperm at all – even though men wanting to have a child are advised to follow a healthy lifestyle, because previous studies have shown a link between such things as obesity and alcohol intake and sperm quality.
So what’s the truth? Already the NHS itself has come out against this latest study, issuing a statement warning that this research doesn’t say that unhealthy living isn’t detrimental to sperm quality. And that the study used a very specific group of men with specific fertility issues – low sperm motility - without looking into the reasons why these men were experiencing problems.
So really, we can’t know what the impact of too much alcohol or obesity actually is on male fertility in general from this study. As the NHS pointed out, we don’t know whether low sperm motility was the only reason the participants were infertile, and we don’t know the reasons behind the fertility problems in the ‘control group’ of men also used in the study. No concrete conclusions about lifestyle factors and their true effect on male fertility can be reached – despite what the media headlines said.
So until evidence is found to the contrary, if you want to have a family you’d be well advised to follow a healthy lifestyle. Current medical advice from NICE is that GPs looking into male fertility issues should consider several lifestyle factors including weight, alcohol consumption, smoking, recreational drug intake and even the choice of underwear.
Last updated: 20th June 2012