Infertility & Alcohol Intake

I’ve had a few questions this week from men and women asking about when it’s ok to  drink while you’re trying to get pregnant. And how much can you drink?

So here’s some facts for us to consider when thinking about guidelines around infertility and drinking alcohol:

Male Infertility & Alcohol 

  • Alcohol is linked with testicular atrophy, decreased libido and decreased sperm count
  • Alcohol decreases semen volume, poor sperm morphology and motility
  • More alcohol in his system means more oxidative damage to his sperm
  • 10 or more drinks a week is associated with 2-5 times more miscarriages

Female Infertility & Alcohol

  • Women who get hangovers are more likely to be infertile than women who don’t
  • The amount that women can drink in a week isn’t clear
  • One drink a week to 5 units a day can have various effects including increasing the time to pregnancy, decreasing probability of conception rate by over 50% and decreasing implantation rate, increasing both the risk of spontaneous abortion and of fetal death and causing anovulation, luteal phase dysfunction and abnormal blastocyst development
  • 10+ drinks a week associated with 2-3 times greater risk of miscarriage
  • Alcohol consumption in the week prior to conception is associated with an increased rate of miscarriage
  • There is no amount of alcohol that’s considered safe during pregnancy

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is characterized by physical defects, brain and central nervous system problems, & social and behavioural issues

Alcohol:

  • Enters your bloodstream and reaches your developing fetus by crossing the placenta
  • Causes higher blood alcohol concentrations in your developing baby than in your body because a fetus metabolizes alcohol slower than an adult does
  • Interferes with the delivery of oxygen and optimal nutrition to your baby’s developing tissues and organs, including the brain

After conception – when does Implantation happen?

Implantation occurs from 6-12 days after ovulation. Some sources say the most likely day is Day 9.

So when can a woman actually “safely” drink while she’s trying?

  1. Theoretically you could drink from start of period to 6 days after ovulation. So that still gives you about 3 weeks a month you could drink
  2. Definitely stick to less than 10 drinks a week. A glass of wine some nights might help to calm nerves and get you “in the mood.
  3. He should stick to less than 10 drinks a week as well.
  4. Ask him to cut back around time of ovulation so his sperm swims straight
  5. If both of you can cut back without impacting your mental health, then that’s good. But remember, our motto is “have a baby without the crazy.” And if you’re on this journey a long time, that’s a long time to go without alcohol if that’s part of your social life. I get it.

Dr. Whitney Young, Naturopathic Doctor – Fertility Doc at Rooted

Book your Free Fertility Assessment with me to discuss your fertility and get your questions answered.

Links:

Mayo Clinic – Fetal Alchohol Syndrome