Alcohol And Infertility: How Your Consumption Of Alcohol Could Affect Your Fertility.

A recent survey conducted in the UK has found that a shocking 9% of men are infertile or have difficulty in impregnating their partner. That translates to over 2.5 million men who are now infertile in Britain.

Sperm quality has reduced dramatically in the last 30 years and doctors are speculating that it may be our culture of having a Friday night binge that is to blame.

44% of those surveyed blamed cigarette smoking on the rising infertility rate and 11% on alcohol consumption.

GP Ann Robinson said, “The results of this survey are shocking and should be a wake up call to men and women that drinking too much and smoking not only gives you a bad headache in the morning but can also affect your ability to start a family.”

Women Should Watch The Drink Too

Research published in the British Medical Journal found that women are also at risk of damaging their fertility if they have even a moderate level of alcohol in their diet. A study in Denmark carried out by various hospitals followed 430 couples aged between 20 and 35 who were trying to get pregnant with their first baby.

They were monitored through six menstrual cycles or until a pregnancy was confirmed. 179 of the women had less than five alcoholic drinks per week and all of these women conceived within six months of having unprotected sex. 75 women drank more than five alcoholic drinks a week and all of these women also conceived within six months. Women who drank more than ten alcoholic drinks per week took longer than six months to get pregnant.

After taking into account other possible factors like body weight and whether or not the person smoked it was concluded that:

  • Alcohol consumption is now widespread throughout many countries so it is important to study its affects on fertility.
  • A woman’s alcohol intake is associated with a decreased ability to get pregnant.
  • This decreased ability to get pregnant is still shown in women who drink as little as five drinks per week or less.
  • Other studies have found that higher alcohol intake can mean the woman takes longer to conceive.
  • Women who are trying to conceive should be advised to avoid alcohol altogether.

(BMJ 1998;317:505-510, 22 August)

High Alcohol Intake And Infertility Problems

Anyone that drinks eight or more alcoholic drinks per day is thought to have an alcohol problem. Alcoholism is nothing new, so this should not be a shocker.  If you are drinking this much alcohol you may become addicted and need larger and larger quantities to achieve the same effect. Alcoholism is a serious health threat and can cause liver disease and even kill you. Withdrawing can cause shaking and seizures other side-effects.

Alcoholism can cause:

  • Anovulation (lack of ovulation)
  • Amenorrhea (lack of periods)
  • Abnormalities of the endometrial lining of the womb which may lead to miscarriage
  • Difficulty in getting pregnant for a prolonged period of time
  • If pregnancy is achieved then up to 40% of babies will have fetal alcohol syndrome. This devastating syndrome causes delayed growth as well as brain damage and heart defects.

If you or your partner think you have an alcohol problem you can seek advice from your doctor who can give you specialist help in quitting prior to conception.

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