Smoke, alcohol and drug addiction and male fertility

Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2018 Jan 15;16(1):3. doi: 10.1186/s12958-018-0320-7.


In recent decades, the decline in human fertility has become increasingly more worrying: while therapeutic interventions might help, they are vexing for the couple and often burdened with high failure rates and costs. Prevention is the most successful approach to fertility disorders in males and females alike. We performed a literature review on three of the most common unhealthy habits - tobacco, alcohol and drug addiction - and their reported effects on male fertility. Tobacco smoking is remarkably common in most first-world countries; despite a progressive decline in the US, recent reports suggest a prevalence of more than 30% in subjects of reproductive age - a disturbing perspective, given the well-known ill-effects on reproductive and sexual function as well as general health. Alcohol consumption is often considered socially acceptable, but its negative effects on gonadal function have been consistently reported in the last 30 years. Several studies have reported a variety of negative effects on male fertility following drug abuse - a worrying phenomenon, as illicit drug consumption is on the rise, most notably in younger subjects. While evidence in these regards is still far from solid, mostly as a result of several confounding factors, it is safe to assume that cessation of tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption and recreational drug addiction might represent the best course of action for any couple trying to achieve pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects*
  • Fertility / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Male / etiology*
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Smoke
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / complications*


  • Smoke