Many studies and extensive research suggest that drinking alcohol while trying to conceive can affect both male and female fertility and make it even more difficult to get pregnant. While it is fairly unlikely that drinking the errant beer or glass of shiraz will significantly reduce fertility amongst men and women, like all things, moderation is key.
We have blogged about the serious risks involved with drinking while pregnant, and it is somewhat of a no-brainer that excessive alcohol consumption can wreak havoc on our reproductive systems. That being said, new studies have concluded that even moderate alcohol intake while trying to conceive can disrupt normal hormonal function and contribute significantly to fertility issues for both men and women.
Female infertility, as a result of alcohol consumption, is strongly linked to altered estrogen levels which can often lead to complicating egg implantation. There is also a strong correlation that exists between alcohol abuse and amenorrhea (when menstrual cycles cease to exist), hyperprolactinemia (when levels of prolactin in blood are abnormally high, often leading to abnormal milk production, menstrual cycle disruptions and erectile dysfunction in men), anovulation (when ovulation no longer occurs) and luteal phase defect (when the endometrial lining develops abnormally).
If you are a female trying to conceive and already suffer from anovulation, alcohol consumption should be completely avoided. And just to review, consuming alcohol while trying to conceive can also cause serious harm to the fetus once conception occurs. As mentioned in a previous blog post, alcohol consumption while pregnant increases the risk of spontaneous abortion, mental retardation amongst exposed babies, impaired fetal growth and development and an increased risk of fetal alcohol syndrome.
Drinking alcohol results in abnormal liver function and increased estrogen levels in both men and women. For men, this can result in problems with sperm development and disrupted hormone levels. Furthermore, the toxic properties of alcohol work to destroy sperm-generating cells in the testes. Since it takes one batch of sperm approximately three months to develop, men should try to minimalize if not completely abstain from alcohol consumption for as long as 3-4 months prior to trying to conceive.