Do lifestyle practices impede male fertility?

Andrologia. 2021 Feb;53(1):e13595. doi: 10.1111/and.13595. Epub 2020 Apr 24.


Alongside an increasing prevalence of couple and male infertility, evidence suggests there is a global declining trend in male fertility parameters over the past few decades. This may, at least in part, be explained through detrimental lifestyle practices and exposures. These include alcohol and tobacco consumption, use of recreational drugs (e.g., cannabis, opioids and anabolic steroids), poor nutritional habits, obesity and metabolic syndrome, genital heat stress (e.g., radiation exposure through cell phones and laptops, prolonged periods of sitting, tight-fitting underwear and recurrent hot baths or saunas), exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (e.g., pesticide residue, bisphenol A, phthalates and dioxins) and psychological stress. This review discusses these lifestyle practices and the current evidence associated with male infertility. Furthermore, known mechanisms of action are also discussed for each of these. Common mechanisms associated with a reduction in spermatogenesis and/or steroidogenesis due to unfavourable lifestyle practices include inflammation and oxidative stress locally or systemically. It is recommended that relevant lifestyle practices are investigated in clinical history of male infertility cases, particularly in unexplained or idiopathic male infertility. Appropriate modification of detrimental lifestyle practices is further suggested and recommended in the management of male infertility.

Keywords: alcohol and recreational drugs; endocrine disruptors; genital heat stress; male infertility; nutrition and obesity; tobacco.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Endocrine Disruptors*
  • Fertility
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Male* / chemically induced
  • Infertility, Male* / epidemiology
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Spermatogenesis


  • Endocrine Disruptors