Diet, Substance Abuse and Male Fertility
Recently, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine held their annual meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii. The topic of male fertility, in terms of diet and substance use, came up. Recent studies have found conflicts which leave specialists scratching their heads. But endocrinology and andrology experts say observational studies alone are not significant. Though in vitro fertilization (IVF) is better overall for those men who consume more fruits and vegetables, one study showed that eating produce with a high amount of insecticide residue affected sperm quality. But another study showed that vegetarians tended to have poorer sperm concentrations than omnivores. Another paper found that tobacco smokers have a higher risk of erectile dysfunction. But those who drank alcohol were less likely to experience it. Urologists often tell men to stay away from alcohol when trying to conceive. Yet, the final study showed that those men who had a high caffeine intake had more trouble conceiving, while male alcohol consumption seemed to increase chances.
The University of Illinois at Chicago’s Craig S. Niederberger, MD said, “While the results of some studies presented at the meeting seem to be contradictory, it is important to remember that observational studies often can’t tell the whole truth.” He went on, “A more rigorous scientific approach would include randomly assigning people to diets—what scientists call prospective randomization—and seeing what happens.” He added, “So we’re left with a basic rule of thumb: if it’s healthy for other parts of the body, it’s probably good for reproduction, too.” President of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) Rebecca Z. Sokol, MD, MPH said, “The human organism is complex and substances we inhale and imbibe have systemic effects beyond the stimulation the user is seeking.” She went on, “These studies provide new information that can help men make healthy choices for themselves, their partners, and their future children.”