Subscribe to the BioNews newsletter for free

Login
Advanced Search

Search for
BioNews

Like the Progress Educational Trust on Facebook


 


 

Smoking and drinking have little impact on sperm quality but wearing tight pants does, study finds

18 June 2012

By Helen Brooks

Appeared in BioNews 661

An unhealthy lifestyle may not affect sperm quality as much as previously thought.

A study in the journal Human Reproduction indicates that smoking, high alcohol consumption and being overweight have little effect on semen quality. Wearing tighter underpants, on the other hand, did reduce levels of swimming sperm, a strong indicator of male fertility.

Researchers asked 2,249 men at 14 UK fertility clinics to fill in detailed questionnaires about their lifestyle. They compared the answers of the 939 men with low sperm quality with the 1,310 men with normal sperm and found that even a 20-a-day smoking habit did not significantly affect swimming sperm levels.

Study leader Dr Andrew Povey at the University of Manchester emphasised that lifestyle choices were 'important for other aspects of our health' but said that the research 'potentially overturns much of the current advice given to men about how they might improve their fertility and suggests that many common lifestyle risks may not be as important as we previously thought'.

Current advice from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) suggests doctors should warn men of the negative impact of smoking and drinking on sperm quality. Fertility treatment is sometimes delayed so couples can alter their lifestyles.

Dr Povey said that the study suggested that such a delay 'is unlikely to improve [couples'] chances of conception and, indeed, might be prejudicial for couples with little time left to lose'.

A NICE spokesperson told the BBC that 'the draft update of our fertility guideline is currently open for consultation. However, until the update of this guideline is published later this year, the NHS should continue to follow the recommendations in the current fertility guideline'.

Study co-author Dr Allan Pacey, from the University of Sheffield, said that lifestyle factors may affect other aspects of sperm quality - such as the size and shape of the sperm - not measured in the study. He said it was therefore 'important that men continue to follow sensible health advice and watch their weight, stop smoking and drink alcohol within sensible limits. But there is no need for them to become monks just because they want to be a dad'.

On the finding that tighter underwear did slightly impact levels of swimming sperm, he said that if a man trying for a baby was 'a fan of tight Y-fronts, then switching underpants to something a bit looser for a few months might be a good idea'.

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

27 October 2014 - by Isobel Steer 
To improve chances of conception, men should drink a pint of beer daily, cut down on coffee, eat more fruit and vegetables (beware a coating of sperm-harming pesticides), and avoid vegetarian or vegan diets...
06 October 2014 - by Dr Linda Wijlaars 
Drinking more than two pints a week could have negative effects on men's semen quality, a study has found...
09 June 2014 - by Dr Barbara Kramarz 
Cannabis use affects thesize and shape of sperm, according to a large study on lifestyle choices, environmental factors and semen quality...
02 June 2014 - by Dr Molly Godfrey 
Sperm cells swim very efficiently when moving upstream against a current and may cooperate whilst doing so, scientists have observed....
18 March 2013 - by Simon Hazelwood-Smith 
Human semen quality may rise and fall in seasonal variation, with the best quality being produced in the winter and spring...

19 March 2012 - by Sarah Pritchard 
Men who consume a diet rich in saturated fat - the type found in junk food - have lower sperm counts than men whose diets contain low levels of such fats, according to scientists...
05 December 2011 - by Luciana Strait 
Ejaculated sperm has been shown to be significantly damaged by prolonged exposure to a WiFi connected laptop. A study, published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, found that after four hours of exposure there was a significant decrease in sperm motility and an increase in sperm DNA fragmentation....
25 July 2011 - by Rosemary Paxman 
Passive smoking may harm the DNA in sperm, a new study in mice has suggested. If the findings are replicated in humans, genetic defects linked to passive smoking could be passed on to children, the researchers advise....
11 July 2011 - by Sarah Pritchard 
Some of the highlights from the 27th Annual Meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction (ESHRE) in Stockholm include good news for sperm donation in the UK; advice about how to reduce the effects of tobacco on unborn children; a 'non invasive' screening technique for chromosomal abnormalities in embryos; and a mathematical model to help reduce multiple births in IVF procedures...

HAVE YOUR SAY
Be the first to have your say.

You need to or  to add comments.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


- click here to enquire about using this story.

Published by the Progress Educational Trust

CROSSING FRONTIERS

Public Conference
London
8 December 2017

Speakers include

Professor Azim Surani

Professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz

Professor Robin Lovell-Badge

Sally Cheshire

Professor Guido Pennings

Katherine Littler

Professor Allan Pacey

Dr Sue Avery

Professor Richard Anderson

Dr Elizabeth Garner

Dr Andy Greenfield

Dr Anna Smajdor

Dr Henry Malter

Vivienne Parry

Dr Helen O'Neill

Dr César Palacios-González

Philippa Taylor

Fiona Fox

Sarah Norcross

Sandy Starr


BOOK HERE

Good Fundraising Code

Become a Friend of PET HERE and give the Progress Educational Trust a regular donation