Is Fertility Affected By Drinking Alcohol?

Is Fertility Affected By Drinking Alcohol?


Everyone enjoys a glass of wine or a bit of whiskey from time to time, and there is nothing wrong with unwinding in that way if you enjoy it.

For people trying to conceive, it might be worrying, as one has to answer the question of whether or not drinking alcohol can affect their fertility.  

How much is too much?

When you are trying to get pregnant, it is always better to err on the side of caution. Ultimately, all alcohol usage should stop, especially if you are a woman.  

If you are not willing to stop your social drinking, keep this in mind:  

  • One normal-sized alcoholic beverage (wine, beer, cocktail, or mixed drink) contains about half an ounce (15g) of absolute alcohol.
  • Moderate alcohol abuse typically equates to around five alcoholic drinks daily.
  • Extreme alcohol abuse equates to over eight or more alcoholic drinks in a day.

Alcohol Does Affect Fertility

Studies have shown that alcohol consumption can negatively impact fertility in both men and women. According to Drink Aware, women who are pregnant, or who are trying to get pregnant, are advised to abstain from alcohol completely.

Everyone knows that fetal alcohol syndrome can be exceptionally damaging and affect everything from the child’s weight to neurological functions in the brain.  

Alcohol and Fertility in Women

Women who want to get pregnant are advised to abstain from alcohol. Even moderate drinking can decrease one’s fertility.

One study showed that consuming between one and five drinks a week could decrease fertility while drinking more than ten drinks can lower a woman’s fertility even more. Bearing in mind that once a woman is pregnant, she will have to abstain completely, it is good practice to refrain from consuming alcohol while trying to conceive.

Women should be aware that there are many adverse reproductive effects to consider before consuming alcohol. These range from inability to get pregnant and an increased risk of a miscarriage, to poor fetal growth and development.

Drinking alcohol can cause you to experience miscarriage, pre-term birth, and stillbirth. Many ovulatory dysfunctions are linked to consuming alcohol in excess, and if you do have infertility, especially anovulation, then you must avoid alcohol use for both you and your baby’s sake.

Babies of alcoholic mothers are at an increased risk of having fetal alcohol syndrome. First described by Jones in 1973, fetal alcohol syndrome is often characterized by a deficiency in growth, mental retardation, behavioral instabilities, as well as an atypical heart-shaped facial appearance.

Furthermore, 30 to 40 percent of babies born to mothers who drink alcohol, either before or during pregnancy, frequently experience congenital heart defects or brain anomalies.

There is no ‘safe’ drinking amount for pregnant and trying to conceive women – therefore, it is best to abstain from drinking alcohol during this time.  

Male Fertility and Alcohol

Men tend to drink more than women do and can generally handle it. However, the night out with the boys also affects their fertility. 

Everyone knows what type of effect alcohol can have on a man’s libido, but few people know that it can also cause impotence. Men that drink heavily have less chance of conceiving a child.   

Typically, a drink or two won't cause any significant negative change in sperm quality. On the contrary, a published study showed that a pint of beer actually might improve conception rates.

It's when the man is drinking more alcohol than that where the adverse effects on sperm health appear. In addition to reducing sexual performance and desire, excess alcohol consumption does impact sperm count and sperm morphology negatively.

A recent study has shown that as the quantity of daily alcohol increases, so do the adverse effects on the sperm. The more a man drinks regularly will result in an increased decrease in sperm count and sperm quality.

It's not only the nightly heavy drinker that harms his sperm, but studies have also shown that getting drunk also has a negative effect. Intoxication has been shown to negatively affect the overall sperm quality as well, although this is a temporary effect if the drunkenness isn't repeated daily.  

Additionally, there is some evidence to suggest that long-term use of alcohol will lead to more permanent damage, including a permanent reduction in sperm count.

The good news is unless long term alcoholism is the issue, a decrease in the amount of alcohol consumed to a lower level, one or two drinks at most a night, will help reverse the negative impact and allow the sperm to return to a healthy state.

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