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Social drinkers Beware! Even Moderate Alcohol Consumption Leads to Impotency: Study

It was there on the block for long but now confirmed, that too scientifically and doctors everywhere will have to advise their patients who say they are social drinkers or consume alcohol rarely at parties not to take it and head for sex with their partners.

Latest study has revealed that even five units of alcohol could bring down a man’s sperm count, thus eroding his ability  to produce children. The study, published in the journal BMJ Open, was based on an experiment involving 1,221 Danish male army recruits in the age group of 18 and 28 years.

The study, conducted during 2008 and 2012, collected information from the participants about their drinking habits and invited them voluntarily to provide sperm and blood samples. The objective of it was to study relationship between three types of alcohol consumption — (1) in the week preceding (habitual/typical) the visit (recent alcohol intake), (2) in a typical week and (3) frequency of ‘binge drinking’ (consuming more than 5 units/day) in the past 30 days.

Figure 1

Figure : Adjusted (for period of abstinence, body mass index and smoking) changes in spermconcentration (%) according to habitual alcohol intake (reference 1–5 units in a typical week) among 553 young, Danish men. The p-value refers to the linear trend from the referencealcohol intake to the highest intake (abstainers excluded).

The results for semen quality (volume, sperm concentration, total sperm count, and percentages of motile and morphologically normal spermatozoa) and serum concentration of reproductive hormones (follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinising hormone, testosterone, sex hormone binding globulin, oestradiol, free testosterone and inhibin B) were studied for the experiment.

The study found that heavy drinkers produced low quality sperm reflecting their inability to produce children, especially among thos who consumed 7.5 units or more of alcohol a week, that is 3 pints of beer. The relation was evident as the more a man drank, the less sperm he made and also the more abnormal it was in shape and size among those who consumed more than 7.5 units a week – although it was particularly strong after 37.5 units a week. Anything more than 21 to 28 units of alcohol a week is harmful to procreation.

Results showed that the total sperm count and percentage of spermatozoa with normal morphology were negatively associated with increasing habitual alcohol intake. It was observed in men reporting at least 5 units in a typical week but was most pronounced for men with a typical intake of more than 25 units per week.

Men with a typical weekly intake above 40 units had a 33% reduction in sperm concentration compared to men with an intake of 1–5 units/week. A significant increase in serum free testosterone with increasing alcohol consumption the week preceding the visit was found. Binging was not independently associated with semen quality, noted the study.

“Our study suggests that even modest habitual alcohol consumption of more than 5 units per week had adverse effects on semen quality although most pronounced associations were seen in men who consumed more than 25 units per week,” said the researchers in their study findings.

“Given the fact that young men in the western world (conume more alcohol), this is of public health concern, and could be a contributing factor to the low sperm count reported among (them),” researchers said.

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