Men Who Smoke Should Worry About the Quality of Their Sperm

Amy Jacob

Smoking is associated with a long list of harmful health factors.

Smoking is associated with a long list of harmful health factors.

The latest negative side effect to be added to the list is poor sperm — the sperm of male smokers have more DNA damage than non-smokers’.

In order to evaluate the effect of smoking on sperm functional quality and seminal plasma proteomic profile, researchers conducted sperm functional tests in 20 smoking men and 20 non-smoking men with normal semen quality.

The various sperm functional tests included:

· Evaluation of DNA fragmentation by alkaline Comet assay

· Analysis of mitochondrial activity using DAB staining

· Acrosomal integrity evaluation by PNA binding

According to the study results, participants in the smoking category had a higher percentage of sperm DNA damage, partially and fully inactive mitochondria, and non-intact acrosomes when compared with the control group.

The research team also assessed 422 proteins in the participants’ sperm and found that one was absent, 27 proteins were underrepresented, and six were over-represented in smokers.

Experts deduced that cigarette smoking contributed to an inflammatory response in the accessory glands and in the testis, which causes an alteration in sperm functional quality.

What does this mean?

The harmful effects of smoking on male fertility can be as extreme as decreased capacity of sperm to achieve fertilization and generate a healthy pregnancy.

“It is especially noteworthy that, in our study, sperm DNA fragmentation was increased. Other studies have proposed this to be a potentially promutagenic effect, which is to say that sperm with altered DNA may lead to health problems in the offspring,” the authors concluded.