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Volume 15, Issue 2 (March 2013) 15, 221–225; 10.1038/aja.2012.118

Does alcohol have any effect on male reproductive function? A review of literature

Sandro La Vignera1, Rosita A Condorelli1, Giancarlo Balercia2, Enzo Vicari1 and Aldo E Calogero1

1 Section of Endocrinology, Andrology and Internal Medicine, Department of Medical and Pediatric Sciences, University of Catania, Catania 95123, Italy
2 Department of Internal Medicine and Applied Biotechnologies, Politechnic University of Marche, Ancona 60100, Italy

Correspondence: Dr S La Vignera, (sandrolavignera@email.it)

Received16 May2012; Revised:17 August 2012; Accepted:23 September2012; Published online:31 December 2012


Although alcohol is widely used, its impact on the male reproductive function is still controversial. Over the years, many studies have investigated the effects of alcohol consumption on sperm parameters and male infertility. This article reviews the main preclinical and clinical evidences. Studies conducted on the experimental animal have shown that a diet enriched with ethanol causes sperm parameter abnormalities, a number of alterations involving the reproductive tract inhibition, and reduced mouse oocyte in vitro fertilization rate. These effects were partly reversible upon discontinuation of alcohol consumption. Most of the studies evaluating the effects of alcohol in men have shown a negative impact on the sperm parameters. This has been reported to be associated with hypotestosteronemia and low–normal or elevated gonadotropin levels suggesting a combined central and testicular detrimental effect of alcohol. Nevertheless, alcohol consumption does not seem to have much effect on fertility either in in vitro fertilization programs or population-based studies. Finally, the genetic background and other concomitant, alcohol consumption-related conditions influence the degree of the testicular damage. In conclusion, alcohol consumption is associated with a deterioration of sperm parameters which may be partially reversible upon alcohol consumption discontinuation.


alcohol; HPT; hypothalamic–pituitary–testicular axis; male infertility; reproductive function; sperm parameters; spermatogenesis; teratozoospermia

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