The association between alcohol intake and male reproductive function remains controversial. A new study in the journal Andrology, which suggests that moderate alcohol intake appears positively associated with semen quality, will add to that controversy.
The study recruited male partners of subfertile couples undergoing assisted reproductive technology (ART) cycles at an Italian clinic. Among the 323 male participants included in the cross-sectional analysis, 9.6 per cent were non-drinkers, 30.0 per cent drank less than 1-3 units of alcohol per week, 30.3 per cent drank 4-7 units weekly, and 30.0 per cent drank eight or more units weekly.
Compared with men who drank less than 1-3 units per week, median semen volume and total sperm count were higher in men who drank 4-7 units weekly. Association with sperm concentration was also significant, with a U-shaped trend across groups. The associations remained after adjusting for potentially confounding factors.
Based on the “reassuring results”, the authors say men undergoing ART treatment should be advised to limit alcohol consumption but abstaining from alcohol does not appear to be necessary.
However, they acknowledge that, because of the small number of participants in some subgroups, the role of heavy or binge drinking was not analysed.