The in vitro fertilization (IVF) journey is often considered a woman-oriented narrative. But a new study has found that male habits such as alcohol use can also significantly affect treatment outcomes.
The study, published in the journal Molecular Human Reproduction, found alcohol use among men has a significant negative influence on IVF success rates.
“We say to the woman, ‘You need to be careful of what you eat. You need to stop smoking. You need to be doing all these different things to improve fertility,'” Dr. Michael Golding said, MedicalXpress reported. “We don’t say anything to the man, and that’s a mistake because what we’re seeing here is that the couple’s odds of success with their IVF procedure are increasing simply by addressing both parents’ health habits.”
Assisted reproductive technologies (ART) like IVF are an extremely popular option among couples facing infertility. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 2% of all babies born in the United States are conceived using ART, the outlet reported.
In the study, researchers used a mouse model to analyze the impact of a potential father’s drinking on IVF outcomes. The males were divided into three groups–a control group comprising males who do not drink, a group containing males who engage in chronic drinking at the legal limit, and a group with males who participate in chronic drinking at one and a half times the legal limit.
Following analysis, it was found that the amount of alcohol that a male drinks before providing sperm for an IVF pregnancy is directly proportional to pregnancy success.
“Seeing the negative effects in both the legal limit group and the group drinking at one and a half times the legal limit revealed that as alcohol dose increases, things get worse,” Golding said.
“That really surprised me. I didn’t think that it would be that cut and dry. That really emphasized that even very modest levels of exposure were breaking through and having an impact on conception, implantation, and overall IVF pregnancy success rates,” Golding further said.
According to the researchers, male alcohol use restricts an embryo from successfully implanting in the uterus, thereby reducing IVF embryo survival rates.
“The most important thing to take away from this is that if you’re a male considering having a family, abstain from alcohol until your wife gets pregnant,” first author, Alexis Roach, noted.
A separate study found an effective method to persuade people to reduce their alcohol consumption. “We found that pairing information about alcohol and cancer with a particular practical action – counting their drinks – resulted in drinkers reducing the amount of alcohol they consumed,” lead researcher Simone Pettigrew from The George Institute for Global Health, said.