Does Alcohol Affect Fertility?

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Author Name: Mia Barnes
Date: Tuesday September 4, 2018

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Perhaps you’re trying to conceive and it’s taking longer than you thought. You know that many women struggle with conceiving, but your worry may be making you analyze every chemical or substance your body comes into contact with. And that’s understandable! You know you won’t drink after becoming pregnant, but does drinking now inhibit your ability to conceive? Does alcohol affect fertility?

The short answer — if you overdo it, yes. All booze juices in moderation is the scientifically-backed rule of thumb if you want to drink and conceive. Here are some things to think about…

A Question for the Reproductive Ages

Researchers took a jab at the question women have asked themselves for ages: “Does alcohol affect fertility?” Doctors have erred on the side of advising conceiving women to avoid or limit alcohol. Some more general sources previously suggested that women choose wine over beer due to the antioxidant properties making it a healthier choice, but is a glass of wine better than a beer or shot of whiskey? If you imbibe, which lesser evil do you choose?

Researchers are finally adding more concrete findings to the conversation. In one study, Danish scientists observed over 6,000 women in secure heterosexual relationships trying to conceive. The women noted their drinking habits, and a year later, 4,000 conceived a child. The study discovered that the alcohol equivalent of 52 ounces of wine consumed weekly didn’t affect participants’ fertility, who were as likely to get pregnant as those who never touched alcohol. The 52 ounces equates to 13 4-ounce glasses of wine.

The study also found no difference in fertility when women drank beer versus wine. However, women who consumed more than that figure were 18 percent less likely to conceive. So does alcohol affect fertility? The question of the reproductive ages comes down to amount — imbibe in moderation.

Moderation Means Different Things to Different People

OK, so that study is one single piece of research, and yes, moderation does mean different things to different people. That means you have to keep a number of things in mind when you indulge.

1. Pressure

Don’t let adult peer pressure get the best of you. You have a goal, and that’s to make a beautiful baby. If your friends are truly your friends, they will support you on the way to your goal, not try to inhibit you further.

2. Tolerance

Know your tolerance. It differs from others and may shift depending on how much you drink in changing situations and years, in addition to what you drink. Giddiness and enhanced socialization are two effects that can be subtle and come on slowly, but should be kept in mind while trying to drink and remain aware of your consumption.

Researchers now know those feelings of enjoyment dissipate when someone drinks over the legal .08 blood alcohol content limit, and specifically, they pinpoint .05 BAC as the degree to which that “giddiness” takes over the body. Consuming more than .05 can increase your tolerance level, weakening your judgment and loosening your resolve not to drink more. If your body is used to a certain amount at a particular time, it anticipates that moment and speeds up the process to accommodate what’s about to happen — you getting your drinking on. Watch yourself in new situations.

Be aware of a history of family dependence, too. If present, you’re four times more likely to develop a dependency on alcohol.

3. Moderation

Use the unofficial law of scientific averages for your specific moderate imbibing amount. Check with various reliable and scientific sources, just like you’re doing with everything else for your baby-to-be. What’s moderate? The United States dietary guidelines say that the moderate amount for women is one drink a day.

What’s excessive? Binge drinking includes four or more drinks for women, and heavy drinking entails having eight or more drinks a week for women. The one-drink equivalent means 12 fluid ounces of beer at 5 percent alcohol or 5 fluid ounces of wine at 12 percent alcohol, for example.

Women who drink over five drinks a week take longer to get pregnant. In addition, many alcoholic beverages contain sugar, which can create hormone imbalances and further affect your fertility and health.

Always be safe. Use your best judgment, and remember — everything in moderation may sound like a tired cliché, but the wisdom stands up to science when looking after your health and bringing a beautiful little life into this world. So enjoy that glass of wine while you can — but stick to a glass.

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