Alcohol and fertility

We look at whether it's ok to drink alcohol if you're trying to conceive.
With the festive season almost upon us and the inevitable parties and celebrations that go with it, many prospective parents begin to wonder whether its ok to indulge in a tipple or two. Like it or not what you eat and drink does have an impact on your ability to conceive and unfortunately alcohol does tend to fall in the what you should do without category. However, like most things it's difficult to know how much is too much, we explain...

Female fertility and alcohol

Alcohol has been shown to have an adverse effect on female fertility, causing hormone imbalances that disrupt the menstrual cycle and make it difficult to conceive. What's more, extreme alcohol consumption can be linked to amenorrhea (absence of menstruation), anovulation (menstruation without ovulation), miscarriages in the very early stages of pregnancy and other fertility problems. Research has shown that even moderate drinking while you're trying to conceive can make getting pregnant that bit harder with women who drink fewer than 5 units a week taking almost twice as long to conceive as those who go tee total. Additionally, it seems that alcohol has its most disruptive effect on female fertility and conception for those over 30 so it can really pay to steer clear of the source if you've reached this life milestone.

Male fertility and alcohol

It's not just the ladies who are affected; alcohol also has an impact on male fertility. Research has shown that the quality, quantity and mobility of sperm produced by regular drinkers is inferior to that produced by their tee total peers. Absorption of the fertility mineral zinc is also reduced when you consume alcohol and again this isn't a particularly good thing for those trying to conceive.

What does this mean?

Most studies agree that the larger the amount of alcohol consumed, the greater the effect on fertility, however, that's not to say that you should abstain completely. Some research has shown that having a couple of drinks a week can help to relax you, take the strain off baby making and put some fun back into the bedroom, which ultimately is going to help your chances of conceiving.

It's currently recommended that if you're trying to conceive you should limit your intake to one or two alcoholic drinks a week. If you like to drink socially its a good idea to spread this out a little - spritzers can be a good alternative to wine and low alcohol beers can be a godsend for those that want to keep up appearances. For more information on what constitutes a 'unit' click here.

Trying for a baby can be stressful for both mother and father-to-be and sometimes turning to alcohol can seem like a good way to shield yourself from the inevitable ups and downs that the baby track can bring. However, it really could make that all important difference if both you and your partner minimised your alcohol consumption at least until there is a bun in the over (well, for dad at least!).

If you or your partner are finding it difficult to cut back on your alcohol intake its a good idea to visit your doctor and have a chat about how you can address this issue. Remember that there will be others in a similar situation to you and it can be good to share your thoughts. Click here to visit the AskBaby forums and chat to others who are also trying to conceive.

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If it wasn't for drinking I wouldn't be 15 weeks along..me and my partner drank half a bottle of jager and ended up getting pregnant. We had been trying for 3 years. If it wasn't for drinking I don't think i would be pregnant.
by TKNOVRGRL 12th Aug 2010, 10:35am
my partner used to drink heavily but has stopped drinking for 7 months now.does anyone know if his heavy drinking in his past will affect his sperm count now or if it will be okay as he doesnt drink now.
by SANDY4GARRY 14th May 2010, 4:05pm
my husband drinks fri-sunday easily.. and i don know how to get him to understand thats been affecting us for 4 yrs now that we've been ttc... any advice onwhat to tell him or how to approach him??
by MrsLibra 7th Oct 2009, 10:35am
GOOD LUCK EVEYONE :)
by ShareenElliisBabyx 8th Jun 2009, 9:57am

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