According to a study, men who drink alcohol are less likely to have a baby successfully through IVF.
Research in mice has indicated that the more a man drinks before donating sperm for IVF, the less the procedure works.
Male rodents that consumed the equivalent of 12 bottles of beer were up to 32% less likely to be successful than sober animals.
Experts believe that alcohol reduces sperm quantity and viability, making it harder for the female egg to fertilize.
In the mouse model, the scientists included a control group that represented men who don’t drink, one that represented men who usually drink at the legal limit, and a group that represented men who usually drink at 1.5 times the legal limit.
In vitro fertilization is an example of assisted reproductive technology that involves fertilizing an egg outside of a woman’s body.
Researchers from Texas A&M University have warned that because their findings involved mice, they may not be fully transferable to humans.
But they said they were concerned enough to be considered by the expectant parents.
Dr Michael Golding, Associate Professor in the University’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, said: ‘We tell the woman, ‘you have to watch what you eat, you have to quit smoking, you have to do all these different things to improve fertility.”
“We’re not saying anything to the man, and that’s a mistake, because what we’re seeing here is that the couple’s chances of success with their IVF procedure are increasing simply by addressing the health habits of the two parents.”
The Texas team’s findings come amid a booming fertility industry in the United States thanks to a combination of several factors such as rising rates of late parenthood, rising infertility and a flood of investment in clinics specializing in assisted reproductive technologies (ART) such as IVF.
In 2019, over 330,000 ART cycles were performed, resulting in approximately 78,000 live births. This represents around 263,000 cycles resulting in around 76,000 births in 2016.
Texas A&M scientists have argued that this increase in the number of expectant parents taking the ART route requires a deeper understanding of how male health affects conception success, not just that of pregnancy. woman.
In vitro fertilization is perhaps the most recognizable form of ART.
In IVF, an egg is combined with sperm outside the body in vitro, or “in glass”. About two percent of babies in the United States are conceived using assisted reproductive technology each year, and its use has more than doubled in the past decade.
The researchers used both male and female mice in their experiment. They divided the male mice into three groups: a control group that consumed no ethanol, a group that consumed 6% ethanol daily, and another that consumed 10% ethanol daily for 10 weeks.
In men weighing about 165 pounds, this six per cent is roughly equivalent to drinking two and a quarter beers an hour for four hours, bringing the total to nine, while the 10 per cent treatment is equivalent to a man of the same size drinking twelve beers in four hours.
Researchers found that chronic alcohol consumption before retrieving sperm was associated with reduced IVF embryo survival and pregnancy success rates. And success rates declined as alcohol consumption increased, with the 10% treatment group’s pregnancy success rate falling to half that of the control group.
The study stated: “Paternal exposure to EtOH before conception significantly reduced both the number of surviving offspring from each embryo transfer and the total number of two-cell embryos surviving to day one. (GD) 16.5, with the 6% EtOH treatment group showing a 24% decrease and the 10% EtOH treatment group showing a 32% reduction in overall embryo survival, compared to sperm from of males in the control treatment. »
The team’s findings were published earlier this month in the journal Molecular Human Reproduction.
Alexis Roach, a Ph.D. candidate helping to conduct research in Dr. Golding’s lab said: “The most important aspect of this research is that it clearly shows that everyone plays a role in the success of pregnancy, even though the general assumption is that they are only women.”
“The most important thing to take away from this is that if you’re a man planning to start a family, abstain from alcohol until your wife becomes pregnant.”
Golding isn’t the first research to be published on the harmful effects alcohol consumption can have on a man’s ability to conceive.
A 2014 study of over 1,200 Danish men found that those who drank heavily had a 33% reduction in sperm concentration compared to men who drank sparingly. Sperm quality also decreased with increasing alcohol consumption.