Lifestyle factors- substance use and the environment


Alcohol has been known to be a factor in both female and male factor infertility for years now. Heavy alcohol consumption has been linked with reduced sperm count and poor sperm motility. Even men who drink moderate amounts of alcohol have been shown to have weaker and slower sperm compared with non-drinkers. It is a good idea to cut back on your alcohol consumption when you are trying to conceive.

Cigarette Smoking

Cigarette smoking is a no-no for anyone trying to conceive a child. Both first- and second-hand smoke have been shown to reduce sperm count in men, and can also affect sperm morphology. A recent study performed at the University of Buffalo concludes that nicotine and tobacco impair the ability of sperm to bind to the outer layer of the egg, impeding fertilization.


Recreational drug use also plays a big role in male factor infertility. Marijuana use has been associated with low levels of testosterone and appears to affect sperm quality. Cocaine, amphetamines, PCP, and heroin have also been linked to reduced sex drive, erectile dysfunction, and ejaculation problems. Anabolic steroids cause hormonal changes within the body, and can severely reduce sperm count and production.

Environmental Hazards

Chemicals and Toxins

Certain chemicals and pollutants in your environment may also be contributing to your infertility. These pollutants can be found in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. Frequent exposure to pesticides, lead, gases, and heavy metals can have adverse affects on fertility, impairing sperm production and motility.

If you work in a job that exposes you to these toxic chemicals, speak with your reproductive endocrinologist about the effects it may be having on your fertility.


Though it may seem harmless, heat can actually wreak havoc on your sperm quality and production. Sperm need to be kept at a cooler temperature than the rest of the body; this is why your testicles are located outside of your body.

Strenuous exercise, whirlpool baths, or tight underwear can increase the temperature of your scrotum, damaging and even killing your sperm. Be sure to avoid hot saunas and spas, and wear loose fitting underwear while you are trying to conceive.


Physical and emotional stress can also play a role in male factor infertility. Stress causes your body to release certain hormones. Continued stress can cause hormonal imbalance, which could effect your sperm production. While you are trying to conceive, it is important to find ways to lower your daily stress.

Table of Contents
1. Lifestyle Factors
2. Drinking and no
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