For prospective fathers looking to have children, you might want to potentially give up drinking. A new study out of Texas A&M University finds that drinking alcohol can hinder a man’s chance of in vitro fertilization (IVF) success.

Researchers highlight the need to broaden fertility and prepregnancy messaging to emphasize the reproductive harm associated with drinking alcohol by both partners—not just the mother. 

Oftentimes, couples turn to in vitro fertilization (IVF) when it seems they’ve exhausted possible options on how to conceive naturally. It’s estimated that roughly 2 percent of babies born in the United States were conceived using assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs).

Their data published in the journal Molecular Human Production shows that evaluating the man’s exposure history, including his lifestyle choices, is also crucial to enhance the chances of achieving a healthy pregnancy. Additionally, it highlights that men’s intake of alcohol may be a vital, unrecognized factor hindering IVF outcomes.

Many assume IVF success rates depend solely on the woman’s lifestyle and health. Women are especially advised to avoid drinking or smoking and even be careful of what they eat. Whereas men, on the other hand, are given the ‘free pass’, leaving their health and lifestyle choices unmonitored.

Contrary to past human studies, however, this study suggests that both partners’ health habits have a key role to play when it comes to fertility and achieving IVF success.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Michael Golding, and his colleagues used a mouse model to allow them to examine the effects of a potential father’s use of alcohol on IVF pregnancy outcomes. For the study, the team divided male mice into three groups. The first was a control group which represented men who didn’t take alcohol. The second and third groups were exposed to alcohol in a way that imitated men who drink within the legal limits of chronic drinking and men who partake in chronic drinking at one and a half times the legal limits, respectively. 

After that, they isolated the sperm after exposure to alcohol and then moved ahead to use the samples collected to perform a standard IVF procedure.

Their analysis showed that a potential father’s alcohol intake significantly lessens IVF pregnancy success rates. More specifically, the more alcohol a male takes before providing sperm for IVF pregnancy, the lower the odds of pregnancy—raising the couple’s financial burden and emotional stress.

“The most important aspect of this research is that it makes it clear that everybody plays a role in achieving successful pregnancy outcomes, even though the general assumption is that it’s just women,” said the study’s first author, Alexis Roach. “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.”

In the United States, roughly 70 percent of men drink and 40 percent engage in the constant habit of binge drinking.

The researchers explain that a man’s drinking habits could influence an embryo’s ability to successfully implant in the uterus and decrease IVF embryo survival rates.

In conclusion, findings from this study should enlighten both couples trying to conceive that it takes combined efforts to reach the goal of becoming pregnant. 

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