Infertility can be caused by a range of lifestyle factors and disorders. More specifically, there’s a strong link between alcohol and how it can reduce fertility in both men and women.

How does alcohol affect fertility in females?

Research has shown that women who consumed one to five drinks a week, had lowered fertility. According to the same study, a moderate alcohol consumption didn’t affect the length of time it took for couples to get pregnant. However, couples who drank more than five alcoholic beverages week took longer to conceive.

It’s thought that alcohol depresses the adrenal glands and slows the release of hormones produced by the adrenal glands. This may directly harm egg health and libido. Most alcoholic beverages also have a high sugar content, and excessive sugar consumption has been shown to contribute to hormonal imbalance, yeast infection, and vitamin and mineral deficiency – all of which may impair fertility.

Does alcohol affect male fertility?

If you’re trying to get pregnant, then the safest approach is to avoid drinking alcohol at all costs. And your partner should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week, spread evenly over three days or more. Men who regularly drink alcohol have been shown to have lower sperm motility and concentration. It can also reduce libido and cause impotence.

If you reduce what you drink each week, then these effects can be quickly reversed.

But some people say alcohol is good for fertility…

Yes, there are plenty of articles on the internet suggesting that having a few tipples here and there will actually promote fertility and increase your chances of getting pregnant. So what’s the logic behind this?

Trying to conceive can be a stressful ordeal all round, with so much “do this” and “don’t do that” –  so many people would suggest that winding down with a glass of wine, prosecco or champagne can really heighten your sexuality and put you in the mood for baby-making!

As fertility expert, Jani White, explains in her article How alcohol can be GOOD for your fertility, “when sexual congress becomes a sperm delivery procedure… that can begin to wear down and weight a couple with politics that can begin to impose a real burden.”

White doesn’t deny that overconsumption of alcohol is bad for you, and will indefinitely have a negative effect on your fertility, but what she does recommend is keeping “a nice chilled bottle of bubbly in the fridge,” so that when it’s around the time of ovulation, there’s a happy treat awaiting.

So, should you drink whilst TTC or not?

Drinking within the recommended weekly amount won’t harm your fertility. Couples trying to conceive who regularly binge drink or consume more units than the recommended amount will likely find it much more difficult to get pregnant.

Check out our Pregnancy Myth-buster Quiz, to uncover some common mistruths.

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Andrew Drakeley

Mr Andrew Drakeley is the Clinical Director at the Hewitt Fertility Centre, working principally at the Liverpool Women’s site but with managerial responsibility for Knutsford.

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