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The Impact of Alcohol on Fertility


 

This question comes up a lot in my practice and was something I was also confused about when I was trying to conceive. As we all know, trying to conceive can be a stressful time, and on top of that, we often find ourselves sacrificing some of our favorite things to optimize our health in the process. Now I'm not going to lie- I love a beautiful glass of red wine but it's no secret that it’s important to have moderation around alcohol whether we are trying to conceive or not. But to clear up any gray areas around alcohol and fertility, I’ve included some info on what the studies show. 

 

One study showed that binge drinking two or more times/week resulted in a 26% decrease in AMH. AMH is anti-mullerian hormone, which can be tested through blood to give an idea of a woman’s ovarian reserve and egg quality. AMH declines with age and oxidative stress. While many folks who are trying to conceive may not be binge drinking, a 26% decrease is significant and raises the question of the impact of more moderate amounts of drinking on AMH. 

 

In a study of women who had 2+ failed IVF attempts, those who completely abstained from alcohol then had a 90% chance of conceiving within 3 years and women who had 3+ drinks /week had a 30% chance of conceiving within 3 years. 

 

Women who had 1-2 glasses of wine/week saw a reduction in their fertility success over 3 years of 66%

 

While these were based on IVF (which is where a lot of our research around fertility comes from) studies showed that alcohol consumption likely has a similar impact on fertility for couples trying to conceive naturally. 

 

I never want to forget the other half of the equation. Alcohol also has significant impacts on male fertility. Long-term, heavy use of alcohol showed reduced gonadotropin release, testicular atrophy, and decreased testosterone and sperm production. So moderating alcohol intake can be a group effort. 

 

Here’s the thing- when I am helping couples try to conceive I’m looking at the whole picture and trying to get to the root cause. So I’m doing as much as I can to regulate blood sugar, to support GI health, to lower inflammation, to support healthy liver function and detoxification, to reduce exposure to environmental toxins and so much more. Alcohol hurts all these things. 

 

So what’s the take-home message? Do I tell everyone to stop drinking alcohol completely- no. Whether I advise them to use moderation or eliminate alcohol depends on the couple. But as we see above- there's an impact on fertility that's hard to ignore. 


 

 

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