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At Least Sperm Is Safe From Booze and Smoke

Healthy sperm counts aren't dented by cigs and alcohol, researchers say. But that's not a recommendation.


Sperm may be more resilient than we
thought. Photo via

By Valerie Tejeda


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It seems sperm don't pay for the sins of their fathers. New research published in the Human Reproduction journal finds that men who binge-drink and smoke still have healthy sperm. Over 2,200 men visiting 14 fertility clinics across the UK were asked to complete a detailed lifestyle questionnaire. The researchers then compared the men's answers to their sperm samples. Cigarettes and booze didn't impact sperm count, they found, while some other factors—such as testicular surgery, race and even job choice—did. "Despite lifestyle choices being important for other aspects of our health, our results suggest that many lifestyle choices probably have little influence on how many swimming sperm [men] ejaculate," says Dr. Andrew Povey, from the University of Manchester's School of Community Based Medicine. US medical experts are reacting cautiously, concerned that the research may send the wrong message. Dr. Avner Hershlag, chief of the Center for Human Reproduction at North Shore University Hospital, NY, believes the study does allay some concerns about bad habits and sperm counts. But he notes, "The study did not find that cigarette smoking was a culprit, yet did not examine the effect of passive smoking on the female partner's fertility." He also stresses, "While it is reassuring to know that sperm is resilient, I still recommend a healthy lifestyle to improve your chances to conceive."

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