At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

What Is the Connection between Alcohol and Sperm?

B. Chisholm
B. Chisholm

Alcohol and sperm are linked by the fact that excessive alcohol intake can affect both the quantity and quality of sperm and, therefore, fertility. While it is difficult to quantify exactly how much alcohol is problematic for sperm production, it is advised to reduce or stop alcohol consumption, and sperm health may improve, especially if fertility is an issue. A number of other lifestyle changes are also recommended to promote fertility in the male, including stopping smoking, avoiding hot baths and not wearing very tight clothes.

Spermatogenesis, or sperm production, occurs in the testicles and epididymis. The sperm that is produced is actually only a very small percentage of the semen which is released on ejaculation. The rest of the fluid is made up of a combination of substances produced by the prostate gland, urethral glands and seminal vesicles, all of which play important roles in the reproductive process.

Alcohol consumption can affect male fertility.
Alcohol consumption can affect male fertility.

Three major factors are important for sperm, namely quantity, quality and motility. Each of these may be affected both by intrinsic factors and external influences. An example of an external influence is the link between alcohol and sperm. It seems that an increased intake of alcohol can significantly affect sperm health. In the case of male fertility issues, complete discontinuation of alcohol intake is best, otherwise moderation is recommended, i.e. no more than one to two drinks per day.

Drinking alcohol can cut down on sperm production and quality.
Drinking alcohol can cut down on sperm production and quality.

While alcohol and sperm seem to affect each other, many other factors also affect the quality, quantity and motility of sperm. Genetics play a large role and lifestyle factors, such as smoking, lack of exercise, wearing tight clothes or having hot baths may also play a role in the health of sperm. Nutrition is important too and it is thought that zinc and selenium supplementation may increase the sperm count and improve function.

Alcohol may impact sperm motility.
Alcohol may impact sperm motility.

Conception may take a year or more. If, after a year of trying, conception has not occurred, medical advice may be sought for both the male and female partner. Male infertility is not uncommon and, depending on the cause of the infertility, may be treatable, mainly by removal of any causes of decreased sperm function, and an alteration in the lifestyle.

While the link between alcohol and sperm has been established, all intrinsic and extrinsic factors need to be taken into account when treating male infertility. A multi-pronged medical approach is often used, which may include pathology tests, psychology and endocrine assessments. Leading a healthy lifestyle is the first step to sperm health.

Discussion Comments


I think a drink or two per week is fine to maintain healthy sperm. As far as I know, it takes a month for sperm to become mature, so the more you drink in that period, the more alcohol might affect sperm.

But if we think about it, we didn't know all of this until fairly recently. Our parents and grandparents did not quit alcohol to conceive us and we came out okay, right?


@ankara-- You're wrong, alcohol has a huge impact on sperm quality, as well as the unborn child.

Alcohol acts as a toxin in the body and reduces sperm quality. It also negatively affects the liver and hormones. It can increase the amount of estrogen produced in the body, and estrogen causes less sperm production. And if conception does happen, the child can be born with many issues because toxins also affect genes.

If a couple are already having issues with fertility, both the mother and father should quit drinking at least three months before trying to conceive.


Of course, too much of everything is bad. I agree that men who are trying to have children should avoid drinking excessively, but I highly doubt that a few drinks are going to make much of a difference. It's more important to avoid medications, exercise and eat healthy in my opinion.

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • Alcohol consumption can affect male fertility.
      By: berc
      Alcohol consumption can affect male fertility.
    • Drinking alcohol can cut down on sperm production and quality.
      By: blueringmedia
      Drinking alcohol can cut down on sperm production and quality.
    • Alcohol may impact sperm motility.
      By: Joshua Resnick
      Alcohol may impact sperm motility.