Patient Resources

How Does Alcohol Affect Fertility?

If you and your significant other are trying for a baby, it is time to cut alcohol out of your diet. Heavy drinking can increase the time it takes to get pregnant and can affect a developing baby’s health. Alcohol has a big impact on your liver, which plays a role in hormone function. This includes the release of estrogen and progesterone, which plays important roles in the menstrual cycle and in maintaining the early stages of pregnancy. If hormone function is disrupted, fertility may be affected. Alcohol can also affect ovulation, making it difficult to conceive.

Heavy drinking is linked to many other lifestyle factors that can affect your fertility as well, such as weight gain, poor diet, and lack of exercise. It is associated with higher risk of ovulation disorders and may cause issues with sperm in men. Excessive alcohol lowers testosterone levels and sperm quality and quantity. It can also reduce libido and cause impotence.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, binge drinking is defined as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 grams percent or above. This typically happens when men consume 5 or more drinks or women consume 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours. Binge drinking can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, small birth weight, and Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

Drinking may also lead to decisions that you wouldn’t normally make, such as unprotected sex or smoking. While unprotected sex is not something you avoid when trying to conceive, engaging in the practice before that time may lead to sexually transmitted infections that can hurt your chances of getting pregnant later. STIs like gonorrhea and chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease or scarring in the fallopian tubes, which are the pathways that fertilized eggs take from the ovaries to the uterus.

The best rule to follow is to avoid drinking altogether when actively trying to conceive. You may be pregnant and not even know it yet; you may not know for up to four to six weeks. Avoid drinking to prevent unintentionally exposing your baby to alcohol.

Are you struggling with infertility? The North Carolina Center for Reproductive Medicine (NCCRM) is the premier center for reproductive health in North Carolina and the East Coast. Our team specializes in fertility testing, diagnosis, and treatment of infertility conditions. Visit us online to schedule a consult or request an appointment.

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