Progressive alcohol-induced sperm alterations leading to spermatogenic arrest, which was reversed after alcohol withdrawal

Reprod Biomed Online. 2010 Mar;20(3):324-7. doi: 10.1016/j.rbmo.2009.12.003. Epub 2009 Dec 11.


This is a report of a 6-year follow-up of a male patient's semen parameters during heavy chronic alcohol intoxication and after withdrawal. A slowly progressive negative impact of alcohol could be observed: isolated moderate teratozoospermia was firstly noted followed by oligoasthenoteratospermia. Then a severe worsening resulted in cryptozoospermia and ultimately in azoospermia. At this moment, the histological analysis of a testicular biopsy revealed a maturation arrest of the germinal cells at the pachytene stage with no mature sperm cells. Alcohol withdrawal was then obtained, allowing a very fast and drastic improvement of semen characteristics; strictly normal semen parameters were observed after no more than 3 months. Taking into consideration these data, patients should be questioned about their alcohol intake before assisted reproductive technology and should be informed about this adverse effect. Moreover, this case report emphasizes how quickly benefits can be obtained after withdrawal, even in the case of heavy chronic alcohol intake.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / complications*
  • Alcoholism / therapy
  • Azoospermia / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Male / etiology
  • Male
  • Semen
  • Semen Analysis
  • Spermatogenesis / drug effects*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / physiopathology