How Alcohol Affects Your Fertility

Whether it’s having a beer with buddies while watching a game, enjoying a glass of wine during a romantic dinner, or celebrating life’s milestones with a champagne toast, alcohol can play an integral part in many of our lives. But did you know that consuming alcohol can have a big impact on your fertility? If you’re hoping to grow your family, it may be time to reevaluate your alcohol consumption. 

Alcohol Affects Your Health

While there is some evidence that drinking alcohol in moderation has health benefits, drinking too much can lead to a whole host of health problems that may affect your fertility. 

Alcohol consumption is linked to heart problems, high blood pressure, liver disease, cancer, pancreatitis and problems with your immune system. Because alcohol is so high in sugar, it can also lead to weight gain and diabetes. All of these conditions, in turn, can impact your fertility.

How Alcohol Affects Female Fertility

When it comes to the effects of moderate alcohol consumption on female fertility, research has shown mixed results. As mentioned above, there are some health benefits associated with moderate alcohol consumption, such as a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, all conditions that could affect your fertility. Other studies found no relationship at all between moderate alcohol consumption and fertility. Importantly, still other studies have found that women who drink in moderation are more likely to experience infertility than those who abstain. 

The negative effect of alcohol on female fertility is more pronounced with heavy drinking. Drinking too much may result in diminished ovarian reserve, making it difficult to get pregnant. And you may not produce the amount of hormones necessary to achieve and sustain a pregnancy and experience early menopause. And if you do get pregnant, a history of heavy drinking puts you at increased risk of miscarriage. 

How Alcohol Affects Male Fertility

Long-term heavy alcohol use is linked to lower testosterone, testicular atrophy, and diminished sperm production. And as you may already be aware, alcohol also interferes with your ability to achieve and sustain an erection and may lead to problems with ejaculation.

While moderate amounts of alcohol don’t appear to affect male fertility, there is some evidence that it may increase the number of abnormal sperm. When it comes to how alcohol affects male fertility during fertility treatments, there is a much stronger negative effect. 

How Alcohol Affects Fertility Treatment

Although there are mixed results when it comes to how moderate alcohol consumption affects your fertility, consuming alcohol during fertility treatment is an entirely different story. Here, the effects are clear: even small amounts of alcohol are linked to worse outcomes. Studies have found that women who drink alcohol during fertility treatments have a lower chance of becoming pregnant and a higher risk of miscarriage. Additionally, one study found that while undergoing egg retrieval, 13% fewer eggs were retrieved from women who drank alcohol compared to those who abstained.

Alcohol consumption in men also has a negative effect on fertility treatment success. Studies have shown that couples have a lower chance of experiencing a successful pregnancy and live birth when the man drank within a month of beginning treatment. The effects increased among men who drank during the week their sperm was collected. Negative outcomes were even higher when both the woman and man consumed alcohol during or before fertility treatments.

A Note About Alcohol and Pregnancy

There are additional reasons you should consider abstaining from alcohol while trying to get pregnant. The most important is the risk of having a child with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), meaning alcohol can affect your baby before you even have a positive pregnancy test. 

Children born with FASD can suffer lifelong effects, including intellectual disabilities, abnormal facial features, and problems with vital organs and vision. There is no known safe amount of alcohol to consume during pregnancy, nor any time during pregnancy when it is safe to consume alcohol. 

If you still choose to consume alcohol, do so mindfully and in moderation. But remember, if you are undergoing fertility treatments, or are actively trying to become pregnant, it’s best to completely abstain for the best chance of a successful pregnancy and healthy baby.

At RISE, we’re here to guide you in best practices for your overall health and fertility, whether it’s help with alcohol, diet or which vitamins to take. Because we’re a concierge fertility center, your physician and entire fertility team are accessible to guide you every step of the way. Schedule a fertility consult today and experience the RISE difference. 

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