Several couples go through an emotional, financial, and physically distressing rollercoaster when they struggle to get pregnant. Fertility misconceptions, like having sex more often and eating and weight don’t affect fertility, are still believed by couples desperately looking for ways to boost fertility. However, men may want to rally behind this belief presented at the 2014 American Society for Reproductive Medicine annual meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii, which found drinking a pint of beer a day can double men’s fertility, but coffee and being a vegetarian can actually reduce chances of conceiving.

While it may seem like a cliché that diet, exercise, and lifestyle choices affect longevity, heart health, and the odds of developing cancer and other diseases, does it affect fertility? The science community knows more about how nutrition and energy nutrition has a major effect on the fertility of cows, pigs and other animals than what fertility experts know about how it affects human reproduction. However, simple changes to your diet and lifestyle are thought to improve a couple’s chances of getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy.

For the first time, a team of researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston sought to look beyond measurements of sperm quality to evaluate the effect of male beverage consumption on in vitro fertilization (IVF) birth rates. A total of 105 men, average age 37, involved in 214 IVF treatments between 2007 and 2013 were observed in the study. The participants all answered questions about their diet such as alcohol intake and caffeinated drinks before undergoing treatment.

The findings revealed there was no link between the amount of caffeine or alcohol they took in and the quality of their sperm. However, in couples where alcohol consumption was relatively moderate — 22 grams or more per day which is less than 28 grams found in two “standard” drinks or two 12-ounce beers — there was a 57 percent chance that a session of IVF would result in a baby being born. This was twice the 28 percent success rate of those who drank the least.

Unlike alcohol consumption, higher caffeine intake — above 265 milligrams (mg) a day — there was only a 19 percent chance of success that an IVF session would result in a birth. Those with the least caffeine intake had a birthrate of 52 percent. A mug of filter coffee contains 140mg.

The researchers remain skeptical about why caffeine and alcohol consumption had a significant effect on birth rates when it seemed to have no impact on the number of sperm, shape or how well they swum. "As far as we are aware, this is the first time this has been reported," he said. "There needs to be a lot more replication before anyone can make a strong recommendation to patients,” said Dr. Jorge Chavarro, study co-author and an assistant professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, HealthDay reported. Chavarro said "we know from other studies that alcohol at very high intakes is not a good idea" for men in infertile couples. The alcohol levels in this study are very modest."

Dr. Allan Pacey, senior lecturer in andrology at the University of Sheffield, believes couples trying to conceive can benefit from social drinking. “However, I firmly believe that moderate social drinking within guidelines (3 to 4 units per day) can be of benefit for couples trying to conceive, either naturally or during assisted conception because it helps to reduce stress” Pacey told The Telegraph. He doesn’t believe couples trying IVF should become teetotal, but they should drink alcohol sensibly, and the woman should stop drinking alcohol when she falls pregnant to prevent harm during the development of the baby.

The researchers of this study aren’t ready just yet to encourage men enrolled in IVF their coffee consumption and have an extra beer, since these are “definitely surprising” preliminary results. This is the first time this has been reported. There need to be more studies done to see if these findings replicate in other populations, such as other couples who are trying to conceive naturally.

The majority of couples get pregnant within three months of trying to conceive with 80 percent getting pregnant in about six months. However, 10 percent are eventually diagnosed with infertility. Since alcohol affects reproduction in both men and women in a number of ways, it’s best to take this study with a grain of salt.

Source: Presentation at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine annual meeting, Honolulu, Hawaii. Oct. 20, 2014.