You might have heard about the harmful effects of smoking and drinking during pregnancy. It is advised for the females to keep away from alcohol and drugs during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Of course, for obvious reasons, as it directly affects the baby. But what about the effects of smoking and alcohol before pregnancy? And does this only affect women?
When it comes to the effect of drugs and alcohol, usually the focus is mainly on the females. Well, before moving any further, let us clear this misconception. Excessive consumption of alcohol, drugs, nicotine, etc equally affects both male’s and female’s fertility. It is not just about the women. Smoking, alcohol and drugs could be the reason for low sperm count in males. Let us understand how.
Dr AK Jain, the best Sexologists and Consultants in India, explains how drugs, nicotine and alcohol can be the reason for male infertility if low sperm count.
How Smoking, Alcohol And Drugs Affect Sperm Count?
A healthy male produces millions of good quality sperms each day, however, only a few attach with the egg to form an embryo. Even for a healthy man who has a fertile partner, it can take a year to conceive a baby. If this is the case with healthy men, you can guess the time it might take for a male whose sperm’s quality or quantity is not good.
The reason for the sperm production to be suboptimal either in quality or quantity can be many including, genetic disorder, excessive consumption of drugs, alcohol, nicotine, etc. In several cases, sperm production can decline over time due to exposure to other risk factors. However, smoking, drinking and drugs seem to be the most common factors.
Drugs, tobacco and alcohol have a variety of short and long-term health effects, including adverse effects on sperm production. These effects include reduced concentrations of sperm in semen and reduced concentrations of sperm that have a normal shape and can move or swim. Therefore, men who are trying to conceive unsuccessfully and those who wish to protect the health of their sperm in the future should avoid a variety of drugs, including alcohol and tobacco.
How Smoking, Alcohol And Drugs Affect Sperm And Male Fertility?
Alcohol can affect both the quality and the quantity of the sperm. It reduces the sperm count, alters the shape and size of the sperm and also affects the mortality of the sperm. The fertility of the men who are heavy drinkers can be affected in the following ways:
- Lower levels of testosterone, follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone and increased levels of estrogen, resulting in reduced sperm production.
- Shrinkage of the testicles, which can cause impotence or infertility
- Modified gonadotropin release also affects sperm production quality and quantity.
- Causing premature ejaculation or decreased ejaculation.
- Changes the shape, size and movement of healthy sperm.
These are just the effects that alcohol can have on male fertility and sperm health. If alcohol is combined with other drugs like marijuana, opioids, etc can further lead to high risks of infertility in men. Also, if your liver is affected due to heavy drinking, this will also affect the sperm quality.
The damage does not stop here. According to the research conducted on humans and animals, excessive drinking can also change the DNA.
How Tobacco Affects Sperm Health?
Studies and research suggest that smoking can lower your sperm count. Research published in the Asian Journal of Andrology found that men who smoked regularly had reduced sperm quality, reproductive hormonal system dysfunctions, impaired spermatogenesis, problems with sperm maturation and problems with sperm function.
Tobacco smoke contains 4,000 different chemicals, including nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide and heavy metals, which can affect sperm function, sperm count, sperm motility and reproductive hormones. Chewing tobacco can have a similar negative impact on male fertility, sperm count and sperm motility.
A study published in Reproductive Toxicology also found that smoking can damage sperm DNA. While we hear a lot about how important it is for women to quit smoking before having a baby, this advice applies to men as well. Stopping smoking while trying to conceive can lead to better sperm count, better sperm motility and prevention of sperm DNA damage.
How To Reverse The Effects Of Smoking, Alcohol and Drugs On Sperm Health
The obvious way to reverse the effects of smoking, drinking and drugs are to stop doing it. Other than this another way to enhance male fertility and improve sperm health is to lead a healthy lifestyle. If you are trying to conceive and the reason for the delay is your sperm is healthy, you need to stay away from anxiety, treat obesity/being overweight, sleeplessness, unhealthy food, etc.
Lifestyle, medications and hormonal or genetic conditions can influence infertility in both men and women. Usually, a male hormone test and semen analysis can help identify underlying issues. It is best to speak to your doctor if you have any concerns and plan to test your semen.
Whether you’ve been trying for a while or just starting to plan a family, there’s no better time than the present to make healthy lifestyle changes. You can start by:
- Control your weight
- Follow a healthy diet
- Getting into a regular exercise routine
- Practice self-care
- Quitting smoking and drinking excessively
- Manage stress and anxiety.
- Manage any chronic illness, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, or other conditions.
Make an appointment with the expert to discuss any specific fertility issues. Always consult your pharmacist and doctor before considering any over-the-counter vitamins or supplements. Book your appointment today with Dr AK Jain, the best sexologist and counsellor to get the right advice on your journey to parenthood.