Smoking and alcohol for men - Direct2Mum

Smoking and alcohol for men

Smoking and alcohol for men
When a couple decide to start trying to for a family, it is often the case that the woman makes considerable changes to her diet and lifestyle, including taking supplements, improving her eating and taking more exercise. However, it comes as a surprise to many couples to realise the detrimental effect the man's lifestyle habits can have on a couple’s chances of conceiving.

The man’s contribution to the conception process is of course his sperm, and he should be doing all he can to ensure these are of the best quality possible! Problems with sperm such as low sperm counts, low motility and abnormally shaped sperm can all reduced the chances of conception, and many of these problems can fortunately be improved through a healthier lifestyle.

Problems with sperm such as low sperm counts, low motility and abnormally shaped sperm can all reduced the chances of conception, and many of these problems can fortunately be improved through a healthier lifestyle.


For example, excessive alcohol can inhibit sperm production and increase the number of abnormal sperm. It can also reduce zinc levels and cause liver problems, which can in turn affect the man’s ability to produce normal sperm. Whilst reducing alcohol intake is an important step for overall long-term health, when trying to conceive it is especially important! Heavy alcohol intake has been linked to low birth weights for children, and other more subtle problems, which may not become evident until the child is of school age.

Alcohol is also a depressant, and can also have adverse effects on a male’s sexual capabilities; fortunately these problems are normally temporary and resolve themselves on abstention from alcohol.

It’s not necessary to become teetotal, though, just to keep alcohol intake down to a handful of units a week, say one or two a day on average. Ideally this should happen several months before you plan to start trying for a baby, as the man’s body takes 90 days to produce sperm, so he needs to think long term.

Whilst the data on the impact of smoking on a woman’s fertility (and on the unborn child) is pretty clear, there are also strong indications that the male partner’s smoking also affects conception. It’s suggested that smoking can reduce the sperm count, as well as it’s motility, or possibly even result in genetic problems such as cleft lip, cleft palates, or heart defects, so it’s really best all round for both parties to kick the habit. Even being around a smoker can inhibit a woman’s ability to get pregnant - smoke can harm the fallopian tubes, and may affect the flow of oestrogen a woman’s body produces - so giving up at least three months before conception is a good goal to have.

Obviously it can be hard to kick ingrained habits, especially when they involve addictive substances, so make a plan for what you will do with the money you save from cutting down on bad habits; for example, put the cash towards the baby’s cot, a smart new pushchair, or even taking yourselves out for a quiet meal before the baby comes to celebrate your joint willpower!

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