People enjoying drinks while discussing alcohol and fertility

Alcohol and Fertility: What You Need to Know

Written on January 24, 2024 by Jordan Stachel, MS, RDN, CPT. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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Many people wonder how their dietary and lifestyle habits affect fertility. More specifically, many wonder about the correlation between alcohol and fertility. Read this article for everything you need to know.

Does Alcohol Affect Fertility?

If you are trying to conceive, you should be aware of how alcohol consumption can affect both male and female fertility. As far as the female reproductive system goes, certain levels of alcohol consumption have been linked to alterations in ovulation and menstrual cycle regularity, making conception more difficult for some people.[1] Alcohol consumption also affects the hormones within the reproductive system, with changes noted in estradiol, testosterone, and luteinizing hormone (LH) levels. In addition, heavier levels of drinking can affect ovarian reserve, diminishing it overall. Research shows that women who engage in higher levels of drinking two or more times each week may have lower hormone levels.[1]

For men, heavy alcohol use can affect gonadotropin release, the size of the testicles, testosterone levels, and sperm production, thus affecting fertility levels.[1] In addition, it has been documented that heavy alcohol use in men can affect general sexual functioning, leading to increased rates of erectile dysfunction.[1] Notably, moderate drinking (i.e., 1-10 drinks per week) has not been linked to negative male fertility outcomes.[1]

How Does Alcohol Affect Fertility Treatment?

For those undergoing fertility treatments to aid in conception, alcohol may affect fertility outcomes. It has been shown that women who drink more than seven alcoholic drinks per week are less likely to become pregnant while undergoing fertility treatment compared to women who drink less often.[2] Another study showed that in women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF), every one drink per day was associated with a 13% lower rate of successful oocyte retrieval.[3]

Because research on this points to a negative correlation between alcohol consumption and the success of fertility treatments, it may be recommended to opt out of alcohol overall while undergoing fertility treatments. If you need more personalized guidance, you are always advised to contact a qualified healthcare provider for more information and personalized suggestions.

When To Stop Drinking When Trying To Conceive

Many people wonder when they should aim to limit and/or omit alcohol when they begin trying to conceive or when looking to optimize fertility efforts. Some experts recommend that women should aim to avoid alcohol consumption in the last two weeks of every menstrual cycle to help optimize pregnancy chances.[4] This is because even small amounts of alcohol may affect a woman’s cycle.

During the last two weeks of the menstrual cycle, also known as the luteal phase, implantation can occur. During this phase, at the time of ovulation (around mid-cycle), there are significantly reduced rates of successful pregnancy for women who drink heavily.[4] This is notable as the average chance of conception during ovulation with no other factors considered is around 25%.[4] Because this is not an exceptionally high probability to begin with, limiting factors that could hinder fertility outcomes, like alcohol consumption, are advised.

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How To Boost Fertility

There are several ways to help boost fertility chances if you are trying to conceive. Some of these include:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight: Being on either end of the weight extreme (either over or underweight) can hinder your ability to get pregnant, as weight extremes can affect a woman’s cycle.[5] In addition, regular and significant fluctuations of weight caused by extreme diet and/or lifestyle changes can also impact a woman’s cycle and overall hormone levels.
  • Maintaining good sexual health practices: Preventing the spread of sexually transmitted infections can help increase one’s chance of conceiving. If you have been intimate with several partners, have not been practicing safe sex, and/or are unsure of where your status stands, it is always recommended to get tested before trying to become pregnant.
  • Getting good-quality sleep: Regular, good-quality sleep can help support healthy hormone levels. Sleep affects all of the hormones in the body, including stress and hunger hormones. As such, positive fertility outcomes are more likely when hormonal balance is achieved.
  • Avoid smoking: Smoking introduces a toxin into the body that can disrupt the body’s general well-being and levels of homeostasis.
  • Have a balanced physical activity regimen: Over-exercising can affect a woman’s menstrual cycle. Aim to limit high-intensity movement that could put added stress on the body. Choose movements like walking, Pilates, and light resistance training that are more anabolic or that help build the body up rather than break it down.

Support Your Fertility Health With Everlywell

At Everlywell, we combine the best in modernized, rigorous lab testing with easy-to-access, at-home medicine. We provide a range of blood tests and services, including our women’s fertility test, that you can use from the comfort of your home. Take control of your physiological health today with Everlywell.

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  1. Van Heertum K, Rossi BV. Alcohol and fertility: how much is too much? Fertility Research and Practice. 2017;3(1). doi:10.1186/s40738-017-0037-x
  2. Salamon M. Alcohol may lower pregnancy odds in women undergoing fertility treatment — but caffeine is no problem. Harvard Health. Published February 1, 2023. Accessed January 22, 2024.
  3. Rossi BV, Berry K, Hornstein MD, Cramer DW, Ehrlich S, Missmer SA. Effect of alcohol consumption on in vitro fertilization. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2011;117(1):136-142. doi:10.1097/aog.0b013e31820090e1
  4. Drinking alcohol could reduce chances of pregnancy — School of Public Health and Information Sciences. Last Reviewed 2024. Accessed January 22, 2024.
  5. Female fertility: Why lifestyle choices count. Mayo Clinic. Published January 9, 2024. Accessed January 22, 2024.

Jordan Stachel, MS, RDN, CPT is most fulfilled when guiding others towards making stepwise, sustainable changes that add up to big results over time. Jordan works with a wide variety of individuals, ranging in age from children to the elderly, with an assortment of concerns and clinical conditions, and has written for publications such as Innerbody. She helps individuals optimize overall health and/or manage disease states using personalized medical nutrition therapy techniques.

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