Improving Fertility: Alcohol and Infertility
For couples experiencing difficulty trying to conceive, drinking no alcohol is commonly recommended since alcohol consumption can have detrimental effects on both female and male fertility. In fact, minimizing alcohol intake can help improve fertility and the chances of getting pregnant, while the effects of alcohol consumption can be a cause of infertility. But how exactly does alcohol affect fertility and reproductive health for both men and women? And how can avoiding alcohol improve a couple’s chances of achieving a successful pregnancy?
Alcohol and Female Fertility
It is generally recommended that no alcohol be consumed during pregnancy so as to avoid harming the baby. In particular, alcohol during pregnancy may cause birth defects that may affect the health of a child throughout her life, as is often the case of fetal alcohol syndrome. In addition, drinking alcohol while pregnant increases the risk of low birth weight as well as the likelihood of experiencing pregnancy loss or miscarriage.
When it comes to getting pregnant and trying to conceive, the effects of alcohol can also be adverse and reduce fertility in women. In fact, drinking alcohol has been linked to lower conception rates. Women who drink alcohol regularly are at an increased risk of developing the following symptoms of infertility:
- irregular periods
- irregular ovulation
- early menopause
In addition, drinking more than two alcoholic beverages per week may increase levels of prolactin, the hormone responsible for milk production, which reduces the chances of getting pregnant while breastfeeding.
Alcohol and Male Fertility
In men, drinking large amounts of alcohol regularly, as well as engaging in binge drinking (four or more drinks in a single evening), as well as moderate drinking has been linked with reduced fertility and conditions associated with infertility.
Men who drink large amounts of alcohol regularly often suffer from erectile dysfunction or impotence, a condition that often contributes to infertility. In addition, liver damage as a result of alcohol consumption increases estrogen hormone levels in men. This in turn can suppress and damage sperm, as well as reduce sperm count.
In addition, the following conditions associated with male infertility have been linked to increased alcohol consumption:
- reduced testosterone levels
- reduced libido
- problems with sperm motility
- problems with sperm morphology
It is recommended that both men and women limit alcohol consumption in order to increase a couple’s chances of getting pregnant. More specifically, it is recommended that no more than two alcoholic beverages be consumed per week, and no more than two drinks should ever be consumed in one evening while trying to conceive.