Investigating the association between alcohol intake and male reproductive function: A current meta-analysis

Heliyon. 2023 Apr 24;9(5):e15723. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2023.e15723. eCollection 2023 May.


Background: Alcohol use and alcohol-related health problems are on the rise in developing countries. This meta-analysis was conducted to determine the effects of alcohol consumption on human male reproductive function through semen parameters, antioxidants in semen, sperm DNA fragmentation, and sex hormones.

Methods: Studies regarding the effects of alcohol consumption on male reproductive function were searched on databases. Based on the random-effects model, STATA software was used to analyze and synthesize the selected studies. Alcoholics, moderate alcoholics, heavy alcoholics, and no alcoholics values were compared using the standard mean difference. Publications were assessed for publication bias by the Egger test.

Result: Forty studies were selected from databases examining the effect of alcohol consumption on male reproductive health in 23,258 people on five continents of the world. The meta-analysis revealed that alcohol intake reduced semen volume during each ejaculation (SMD = -0.51; 95% CI -0.77, -0.25). However, there were no significant associations with other semen indicators such as density, mobility, and normal and abnormal sperm count from this analysis. In addition, drinking alcohol lowered antioxidant enzymes in semen (SMD = -7.93; 95% CI -12.59, -3.28) but had no effect on sperm DNA fragmentation. Finally, the results showed a decrease in general testosterone levels (SMD = -1.60; 95% CI -2.05, -1.15), Follicle Stimulating Hormone (SMD = -0.47; 95% CI -0.88, -0.05), Luteinizing Hormone (SMD = -1.35; 95% CI -1.86, -0.83), but no effect in other sex hormones named as estradiol, Inhibin B and Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin. Furthermore, when analyzing subgroups at different drinking levels, the results showed that the moderate alcoholic group (less than 7 units/week) had no change in the semen index. Meanwhile, the group of heavy alcoholics (more than 7 units/week) harmed the semen index and sex hormones, especially by increasing estradiol.

Conclusion: There is evidence that alcohol consumption affected semen volume and antioxidant, reproductive hormones thus negatively affecting male reproductive function. This study might be necessary to make recommendations regarding alcohol consumption for men.

Keywords: Alcohol consumption; Antioxidant; Heavy drinkers; Sex hormones; Sperm DNA fragmentation; Sperm parameters; Testosterone.