how long does alcohol affect sperm

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When it comes to pregnancy and alcohol, many of us know that women should not drink while pregnant. But not everyone is aware that alcohol consumption before pregnancy can also cause problems with fertility, especially when it comes to the male.

Men who regularly participate in heavy drinking are at risk for a number of fertility-related side effects, including low libido and reduced sperm count. The more a man drinks, the more at risk he is for affected fertility. Seeking treatment at a rehab facility such as the Vertava Health treatment centers can help men reclaim their lives in sobriety and improve overall health and wellness.

how does alcohol affect fertility in females

What Amount Of Alcohol Impacts Male Fertility?

In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that nearly 23 percent of men drank an average of eight drinks per sitting multiple times a month. Additionally, the CDC found that in an estimated 35 percent of infertility cases, both male and female factors were discovered.

Studies have found that one major factor that contributes to male infertility is heavy alcohol consumption. Heavy drinking is considered more than five drinks within a two hour period for men or more than 15 mixed drinks in a week. However, it’s important to note that low to moderate alcohol consumption – up to two drinks in one sitting – does not have a negative effect on male fertility.

How Long Does Alcohol Affect Sperm

Heavy alcohol consumption can directly affect the reproductive system of a male as well as his hormones. Alcohol abuse impacts a male’s hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal axis or HPG axis. This axis makes up the reproductive system in a man and consists of the testes, hypothalamus, and anterior pituitary gland.

By interfering with how the reproductive system functions, alcohol abuse can significantly impact both a male’s sperm production and his hormones. This, in turn, can reduce fertility and make it more difficult for a couple to become pregnant.

Ways In Which Alcohol Abuse Impacts Male Fertility

There are several different ways in which a male’s fertility may be affected by alcohol abuse. One way is by lowering a man’s libido, making it harder to perform or want to perform sexually. Decreased libido can lead to decreased sex, which can make it more difficult to become pregnant.

Additionally, alcohol abuse can:

  • negatively impact a man’s hormone levels, including testosterone, estrogen, follicle-stimulating hormones, and luteinizing hormones
  • cause early or decreased ejaculation
  • impact the release of gonadotropin, which directly affects sperm production and quality
  • shrink the testes

What’s more, alcohol abuse can severely affect the quality of a man’s sperm. Studies have found that men who drink heavily are more likely to have abnormal sperm. This can include the motility, size, shape, and count of the sperm. Some men who abuse alcohol may have no sperm in their semen, making it impossible for pregnancy to occur naturally.

The more alcohol a man drinks, the more likely he is to have abnormal sperm and other fertility-related problems. However, lowering alcohol consumption or quitting drinking can drastically improve fertility in men who experienced fertility problems as a result of drinking. In fact, some studies have shown a significant improvement in sperm after 90 days of abstinence.

Getting Help For Alcohol Abuse

If you are wondering whether your heavy drinking is negatively impacting your fertility or have tried to quit drinking and have been unsuccessful, you may be struggling with an alcohol use disorder. Seeking treatment for alcohol abuse and addiction is one of the best decisions you can make for your overall health and life in general. Vertava Health has several treatment facilities across the nation that offer personalized programs of recovery for individuals looking to overcome alcohol addiction.

how long after quitting drinking will sperm improve

Natural remedies

a man exercising as a way to increase sperm count
Regular exercise may help increase sperm count.

For several decades, researchers have known that sperm quality and fertility rates have been declining in most Western nations.

According to one 2017 study, the average sperm count in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand dropped by 59.3% between 1973 and 2011.

Despite studies having identified this, scientists still do not fully understand the reasons for this decline. Research into reliable methods for reversing a low sperm count is ongoing.

Practitioners of ancient, herbal, and traditional medicine have used several nonpharmacologic remedies to increase sperm count and improve sperm health for thousands of years. What is more, researchers have suggested that most of these remedies can actually influence sperm count in some way.

The following are some natural ways to increase sperm count.

1. Get enough exercise and sleep

Several studies have suggested that weight loss and exercise among people with overweight or obesity can lead to an improved or increased sperm count. However, the science linking a healthy body mass index (BMI) to a healthy sperm count is still weak.

One 2017 studyTrusted Source examined the benefits of performing a 16 week aerobic exercise program of at least three 50-minute sessions per week. The participants reached 50–65% of their peak heart rate.

In the study, regular exercise increased sperm count and motility in 45 men with obesity and sedentary lifestyles.

2. Quit smoking

2016 meta-analysis that reviewed the results of over 20 studies with a total of nearly 6,000 participants found that smoking consistently reduced sperm count.

The researchers found that people who smoked moderate or heavy amounts of tobacco had a lower sperm quality than people who smoked tobacco less heavily.

3. Avoid excessive alcohol and drug use

The number of controlled studies to have explored the link between sperm health and drugs is limited. This is because testing illicit substances can lead to ethical problems.

However, one 2018 reviewTrusted Source has linked the worldwide use of drugs such as alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine to decreased sperm production. Some evidence is conflicting, so further research is necessary to confirm this link.

4. Avoid certain prescription medications

Some prescription medications can potentially decrease healthy sperm production. Once the male stops taking the medication, however, their sperm count should return to normal or increase.

Medications that may temporarily reduce the production and development of sperm include:

  • some antibiotics
  • anti-androgens
  • anti-inflammatories
  • antipsychotics
  • opiates
  • antidepressants
  • anabolic steroids, which may continue to affect sperm count for up to 1 year after stopping the medication
  • exogenous or supplementary testosterone
  • methadone

Males should seek consultation with a healthcare provider if they believe that a medication they are currently taking may be reducing their sperm count or affecting their fertility.

5. Take a fenugreek supplement

Fenugreek has long been in use as a natural remedy for poor sperm health, and advocates suggest that it may help improve sperm count.

In fact, one 2017 study found that the patent-pending compound Furosap, which manufacturers developed from fenugreek seeds, significantly improved overall semen quality and sperm count.

Various fenugreek products, including supplements, are available to purchase online.

6. Get enough vitamin D

Researchers are not entirely sure why, but blood levels of vitamin D and calcium appear to impact sperm health.

In a 2019 literature reviewTrusted Source of 18 studies, researchers found a significant association between improved fertility in male participants and a higher level of vitamin D in the blood.

However, the study authors do advise caution when interpreting these results, and they recommend further clinical trials to confirm their findings.

Research shows that a deficiency in calcium may also adversely impact sperm count.

Vitamin D supplements are available to purchase in health food stores and online.

7. Take ashwagandha

Ashwagandha, or Indian ginseng, has long played a role in traditional medicines as a remedy for several forms of sexual dysfunction.

A 2013 study found that 46 males with low sperm counts who took 675 milligrams of ashwagandha daily for 90 days saw a 167% increase in their sperm count.

Ashwagandha is available to purchase online or in health food stores.

8. Eat more antioxidant-rich foods

Antioxidants are molecules that help deactivate compounds called free radicals, which damage cells.

Several vitamins and minerals act as antioxidants, and some studies have linked antioxidant consumption with increased sperm count.

According to a 2019 review, antioxidants that may contributeTrusted Source to a healthy sperm count include:

9. Increase healthful fat intake

Polyunsaturated fats are crucial for the healthy development of the sperm membrane. Such fats include omega-3 and omega-6.

2019 reviewTrusted Source of three studies found that males with infertility who supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids experienced a significant improvement in sperm motility and concentration, compared with males who did not take omega-3 supplements.

Omega-3 supplements are available to purchase online from various brands.

10. Reduce unhealthful fat intake

2014 study surveyed 209 healthy Spanish males aged 18–23 years. The researchers found that as they increased their consumption of trans fatty acids, their sperm count decreased proportionately.

11. Limit exposure to environmental and occupational contaminants

As pollution and congestion increase, researchers often link environmental factors such as air quality and exposure to toxic chemicals to reduced sperm health and count.

Specifically, a 2019 studyTrusted Source linked living in highly industrial areas with heavy air pollution to lower sperm counts.

Avoiding environmental toxins as often as possible also contributes to better overall health.

12. Limit the consumption of soy and estrogen-rich foods

Some foods, especially soy products, contain plant estrogen. This can reduce testosterone bonding and sperm production.

2019 studyTrusted Source of 1,319 males in China found that higher concentrations of plant estrogen in the semen meant lower quality sperm.

Many canned and plastic products are also high in synthetic forms of estrogen. Bisphenol A is a compound that binds to estrogen receptors in the body and may also impact male fertility after exposure, according to one 2019 reviewTrusted Source.

13. Get enough folate and zinc

Limited studies suggest that consuming folate and zinc in combination may improve the overall health of sperm, including concentration and count.powered by Rubicon Project

Foods to improve sperm count

For the most part, taking supplements is a safe way for a person to reach their daily requirement for most vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. However, the body does not always easily absorb them.

Most studies suggest that eating foods that provide good amounts of specific compounds and chemicals allows the body to use them more efficiently.

The best way to increase sperm count naturally may be to increase the consumption of foods high in sperm-friendly nutrients, such as vitamin C, antioxidants, and polyunsaturated fats.

A 2016 reviewTrusted Source highlighted several dietary patterns that could lead to a low sperm count. These included:

  • eating high quantities of red and processed meat
  • not eating enough polyunsaturated fatty acid
  • having a high intake of energy
  • consuming low levels of antioxidants
  • consuming high levels of saturated fats
  • eating limited amounts of fruits and vegetables

According to a 2012 reviewTrusted Source, no specific food is the key to increasing sperm count through the diet. Instead, considering the diet as a whole is the best way to improve fertility.

The review did, however, highlight cantaloupe melon as a particularly powerful food in relation to improving sperm count.

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