Can You Drink Alcohol While Trying to Conceive?

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Facts: Drinking Liquor, Beer or Wine While Trying to Get Pregnant

If you’ve been having difficulties conceiving, you are probably wondering if you are doing something wrong. Perhaps you are questioning whether your lifestyle is affecting your chances of bringing a baby into this world.  Or if your dietary choices are an issue. Or if that Friday night glass of wine is a problem.

Fertility and Drinking Alcohol

It turns out that in the United States alcohol is the most widely used recreational substance with 86.4% of people over the age of 18 reporting the consumption of alcohol at some point in their lives (according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health).  Unfortunately, alcohol use can be linked to multiple reproductive risks including Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.  Alcohol consumption is also associated with an increased risk of miscarriage as well as a decreased chance of live birth. 

Research on Alcohol and Reproductive Health 

In the US, about 12% of couples who are trying to conceive have difficulties with conception and in 2017, Biomedical Central’s Fertility Research and Practice published a paper in which they reviewed alcohol and its effects on ovarian reserve, hormone production, sperm quality, and fertility treatments. 

The authors noted that heavy alcohol use has been linked to diminished ovarian reserve and decreased fertility rates. In addition, heavy drinkers or those suffering from alcoholism experience menopause earlier than those who do not drink as frequently. A Spanish study also found that women who were heavy alcohol users had a higher risk of seeking infertility treatments than light alcohol users.

Moderate to Light Alcohol Consumption for Fertility 

Interestingly, light alcohol use has not been linked to significant infertility cases. Several different studies found no relationships between light and moderate alcohol consumption and fertility. Only one Danish study found that women who consumed 1-5 drinks per week had a decreased chance of clinical pregnancy compared to those who did not drink. 

Alcohol during IVF and Fertility Treatments 

There is a substantial amount of evidence that points to any amount of alcohol use in the weeks before fertility treatments, whether heavy, moderate, or light, negatively affecting IVF treatment outcomes.  Studies have shown a 13% decrease in the number of oocytes received, almost a 3 times higher chance of not achieving pregnancy, and a 2.21 times higher risk of miscarriage in women who drink alcohol. 

There is not much research on how alcohol consumption affects fertility treatments like intrauterine insemination (IUI), intracervical insemination (ICI) or controlled ovarian stimulation (COS). 

Men’s Fertility and Alcohol 

In men, alcohol has been linked to issues with decreased testosterone, a reduction in sperm production, and testicular atrophy. Heavy alcohol use often results in liver dysfunction which can create hormonal disturbances as the liver is unable to metabolize estrogens properly. Heavy alcohol intake in men is also known to be linked to erectile dysfunction, which can make intercourse or sperm donation difficult in patients who are trying to conceive.  Light use of alcohol has been shown to be less dangerous for men. Although consistent light drinkers did present a decrease in normal sperm shape, the majority of other studies did not find an overall negative long term impact between light alcohol use and sperm health. 

Women’s Fertility and Alcohol 

Finally, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome has been shown to be very dangerous to a developing baby, and there is no evidence that shows a “safe” time or safe amount to drink during pregnancy. Women who are trying to conceive should take precautions, in case they do get pregnant unknowingly, in order to protect their future baby from those risks. 

Though the findings are inconsistent, women who are already seeking treatment for infertility should be encouraged to minimize alcohol consumption, as even moderate levels could negatively impact their ability to conceive. Taking every precaution possible will help increase your chances of conceiving and having successful fertility treatments. 

Top Fertility Doctor Recommends 

At Reproductive Health and Wellness Center we look at more than medical charts. At your first free consultation you meet with Dr. Rosencrantz and his medical team. The doctor goes over your medical history and will ask if you smoke cigarettes or cannabis, and also if you drink alcohol. Depending on your answer and medical history, the doctor will either recommend to stop or to drink alcohol moderately light.

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