Author(s): Donnelly GP, McClure N, Kennedy MS, Lewis SE
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Abstract Excessive alcohol consumption has been associated with impaired reproductive function by causing the inhibition of penile tumescence and ejaculatory capability. Alcohol intoxication has also been implicated in impaired spermatogenesis and an increase in sperm structural anomalies. The aim of this study was to determine the direct effects of alcohol on sperm motility and morphology in vitro. Semen samples from 67 subjects were prepared using density centrifugation. Ethanol was added, at concentrations in serum equivalent to social, moderate and heavy drinking, to the medium in which the spermatozoa were cultured. Sperm motility was assessed using computer assisted semen analysis and morphology was assessed by Tygerberg strict criteria after 0, 15, 30, 60, 120, 180 and 240 min exposure. Each concentration of ethanol produced significant decreases in the percentage progressive motility, straight line velocity and curvilinear velocity. The amplitude of lateral head displacement was also depressed by 300 and 500 mg dL-1 of ethanol. A significant decrease in the number of spermatozoa with normal morphology and an increase in irreversible tail defects were observed after exposure to 300 mg dL-1 ethanol. When alcohol is added directly to sperm, at concentrations equivalent to those in serum after moderate and heavy drinking, damaging effects are observed in both sperm motility and morphology.
This article was published in Andrologia
and referenced in Journal of Medical Microbiology & Diagnosis