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.
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. 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.
For men, heavy alcohol use can affect gonadotropin release, the size of the testicles, testosterone levels, and sperm production, thus affecting fertility levels. In addition, it has been documented that heavy alcohol use in men can affect general sexual functioning, leading to increased rates of erectile dysfunction. Notably, moderate drinking (i.e., 1-10 drinks per week) has not been linked to negative male fertility outcomes.
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. 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.
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.
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. 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. This is notable as the average chance of conception during ovulation with no other factors considered is around 25%. Because this is not an exceptionally high probability to begin with, limiting factors that could hinder fertility outcomes, like alcohol consumption, are advised.
There are several ways to help boost fertility chances if you are trying to conceive. Some of these include:
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.
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.