If you’ve been trying to get pregnant, but haven’t had success so far, it’s completely natural to want to find ways you can improve your chances of conception. Maybe your doctor has suggested that you cultivate a healthier lifestyle. Or, maybe you’ve gone online and seen an overwhelming number of suggestions for things you can try to increase your chances of conception.
No matter if you’ve spoken with a doctor or you’ve started your own research, a lot of the information out there can be confusing — and not always accurate. One question we get from a lot of couples trying to get pregnant is whether or not you can drink while trying to conceive. There’s a lot of information — and misinformation — out there regarding alcohol, sex and pregnancy. It can vary between countries as well.
So, how does drinking affect fertility? And will you still be able to conceive if you enjoy an occasional beer or glass of wine?
Does Alcohol Affect Male Fertility?
Did you know that 20 to 30 percent of fertility issues can be traced back to male infertility? If you’ve been struggling to conceive, this is why your doctor has likely suggested that you and your partner both undergo testing. In some cases, a man may have a medical reason for infertility. However, alcohol has been known to compromise an otherwise healthy male reproductive system.
Alcohol is known to interfere with the male reproductive system, specifically interfering with the production of testosterone and the body’s ability to produce mature sperm that are able to fertilize an egg. In other words, drinking alcohol — especially in larger quantities — decreases a man’s ability to produce strong, healthy sperm that can do the job.
Besides that, drinking large quantities of alcohol can result in a lack of sexual desire, erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.
How Does Drinking Affect Fertility in Women?
A 2016 study conducted in Denmark followed the alcohol consumption habits of over 6,000 women trying to conceive. The researchers asked women to complete questionnaires about their alcohol consumption and other lifestyle factors throughout their fertility journey. Over the course of the study, the researchers found that women who consumed alcohol in moderate amounts — less than 14 four-ounce servings per week — showed no signs that the alcohol hindered their ability to conceive.
On the other hand, researchers found that women who consumed more than the definition of a moderate amount were 18 percent less likely to conceive. The type of alcohol either group consumed didn’t seem to be a factor either.
So what does this mean?
Drinking moderate amounts of alcohol don’t seem to have a direct impact on a woman’s fertility. However, other studies have found that consuming alcohol can impact other things like weight and sexual function, which can decrease a woman’s ability to conceive.
Should I Stop Drinking Altogether?
Researchers and medical professionals continue to study the impact that alcohol has on both the male and female reproductive systems. There’s simply a lot we don’t know about the impact alcohol can have on fertility. While alcohol may not be the only reason you haven’t been able to conceive, it’s clear that large quantities of alcohol can significantly decrease your chances of getting pregnant.
Cultivating a Healthy Lifestyle
If you’re working with a fertility specialist to determine why you haven’t been able to conceive, he or she may have encouraged you and your partner to examine a number of lifestyle choices that can impact your body’s ability to get pregnant. Decreasing your consumption or abstaining from alcohol can be a significant part of cultivating a healthy lifestyle. Here’s how.
Alcohol contains calories — and not the good, healthy calories that fuel our bodies. Alcohol is full of “empty calories” that have no positive impact on your body. In fact, when you drink alcohol, it signals your liver to burn the alcohol instead of fat cells. If you’re consuming alcohol regularly, especially if you’re drinking a lot of it, you’re consuming a lot of extra calories that your body isn’t getting rid of. That means you’re at risk of carrying extra weight.
If you’re looking for ways to lose weight, reducing or eliminating alcohol from your diet is a great place to start. Cutting out those extra calories goes a long way in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, which can improve your chances of conceiving.
Alcohol has been shown to slow down the body’s metabolism and prevent it from absorbing nutrients it needs to stay healthy — including folic acid which is essential to a healthy pregnancy. When you cut alcohol from your diet, your body can more effectively absorb the nutrients it needs to conceive and support a healthy pregnancy.
Depending on how much you drink, alcohol can impact your ability to exercise effectively. It can also have a negative impact on your body’s ability to recover. If a healthy weight and healthy body are your workout goals, then skip the alcohol and opt to consume healthy food and drinks before and after you exercise.
Moderate alcohol consumption doesn’t typically have a negative impact on male or female ability to perform sexually. But excessive drinking can impair your sexual function, inhibiting your chances of getting pregnant. When you abstain from alcohol, you eliminate one factor that may be contributing to fewer opportunities for conception.
Alcohol and Fertility
What it comes down to is this: Alcohol consumption by itself probably isn’t the reason you aren’t pregnant yet. A glass of wine with dinner or a few sips of champagne over the holidays isn’t going to destroy your chances of conceiving. But if you or your partner regularly consume alcohol in large quantities, you may be making it more difficult for a pregnancy to occur.
As you navigate the journey to starting a family, now is a good time to reduce — or even eliminate — alcohol from your daily diet. Make healthy choices, exercise and find new ways to relax.
Sometimes making healthy changes yields results, but other times, it doesn’t. If you’ve made significant lifestyle changes but still aren’t pregnant, Western Fertility Institute is ready to help. Our team of experienced medical professionals can work with you and your partner to figure out what’s preventing you from becoming pregnant. Once they figure out why you haven’t been able to conceive, they can help you determine the best course of treatment so that you can finally achieve your dream of being a parent.
We are based in Los Angeles, and we are privileged to work with clients from all over the world. Schedule your appointment today.