The Effects Alcohol May Have on Female Fertility

Posted on October 3, 2016



According to a Danish study that was published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) on Aug. 31, 2016, women who consume 14 alcoholic beverages (or more) a week reduce their chances of becoming pregnant by nearly 20 percent. However, in this particular study, the fertility of the women who consumed from one to seven servings of alcoholic beverages a week was not affected. Additionally, the type of alcoholic beverages consumed seem to have no bearing on a woman’s fertility.

The Definition and Prevalence of Infertility.

A couple is considered infertile if they are unable to conceive naturally within a 12-month timeframe. In developed countries, as many as 24 percent of couples have difficulty conceiving. Although physicians typically recommended that women who are attempting to conceive avoid alcoholic beverages, the actual affects that alcohol had on female fertility were unclear. This uncertainty is what led the University Hospital of Aarhus in Denmark to conduct the Alcohol consumption and fecundability: prospective Danish cohort study.

The Alcohol Consumption and Fecundability: Prospective Danish Cohort Study Participants.

The women who participated in this study already had a male partner. The couples had been trying to conceive between the dates of June 2007 to January 2016. None of the couples in the study were receiving fertility treatments. The ages of the 6,120 women participating in this study ranged from 21 to 45 years old.

Documentation and Questionnaires Were Used to Track Each Participant’s Habits.

Researchers documented the type of alcoholic beverages the female participants consumed as well as the amount of their overall alcohol consumption. In addition, female participants completed a bimonthly questionnaire. This questionnaire asked about her alcohol consumption, intercourse frequency, menstrual cycle and smoking habits. Each female participant filled out these bimonthly questionnaires until she conceived or until she reached her 12-month mark of trying to become pregnant.

The Final Results of the Alcohol Consumption and Fecundability: Prospective Danish Cohort Study.

Participants who refrained from drinking alcoholic beverages achieved 1,381 pregnancies in 8,054 cycles. In 307 cycles, 37 of the study participants who consumed at least 14 servings of alcohol weekly achieved pregnancy.

The Overall Impact of Alcohol on Female Fertility.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, frequent alcohol consumption increases the incidence of menstrual disorders.

These disorders include:

  • A painful menstrual cycle (dysmenorrhea).
  • A delayed or absent menstruation (amenorrhea).
  • Irregular menstrual cycles.
  • An absence of ovulation (anovulation).
  • Premature menopause.

Alcohol has the ability to affect a woman’s menstrual cycle and a man’s sperm quality. Therefore, researchers suggest that when a couple is trying to become pregnant, they both abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages.

If you have been trying to conceive for some time or you are about to start your family, contact Peconic Bay Medical Center (PBMC) today. Our caring physicians and medical professionals are dedicated to providing the residents in and around Riverhead, N.Y., with high quality compassionate care.