Impact of Alcohol Use

Particularly in Western cultures, the use of alcohol often plays a role in our popular notions about conception. The idea of "making babies" conjures up images of romance and champagne. However, for folks who are really trying to conceive, such old notions must generally be put aside.

In general, it's best to avoid drinking alcohol during cycles in which conception is a goal, and here's why:

In Women, Alcohol

  • correlates to decreased conception rates, even with a weekly alcohol intake of five or fewer drinks
  • results in inadequate functioning of the ovaries (with chronic, heavy drinking)
  • results in cessation of menstruation (with chronic, heavy drinking)
  • results in irregular menstrual cycles and anovulatory menstruation
  • can result in early menopause
  • increases risk of miscarriage
  • negatively impacts libido (sex drive)

In Men, Alcohol:

  • results in inadequate functioning of the testes (with chronic, heavy drinking)
  • causes reduced testosterone in men
  • may interfere with normal sperm structure and movement by inhibiting adequate metabolism of vitamin A
  • negatively impacts libido (sex drive)

How does alcohol do this?

Alcohol can impair the functions of the glands (hypothalamus and pituitary) which release the all-important reproductive hormones, in addition to affecting the functioning of the body's other endocrine glands.

Alcohol related dysfunctions can by caused either by alcohol's direct interference with regulation of hormones or indirectly through other disorders related to alcohol abuse, such as liver disease, pancreatic disease, or malnutrition.