The Effects of Alcohol During Conception
While it is generally accepted that drinking in moderation is acceptable and can even provide health benefits, heavy consumption of alcohol can lead to liver diseases, heart disease and infertility.
Drinking while trying to conceive can increase your risk of miscarriage and should be avoided by both women and men.
Risk of Miscarriage
According to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the consumption by both males and females during the week of conception resulted in an increased risk of spontaneous pregnancy loss.
Of the 186 reported pregnancies during the study, 131 were successful and 55 led to failed pregnancies. The risk of spontaneous miscarriage tripled with female alcohol consumption and the risk of miscarriage increased two to five times with male alcohol consumption.
These risks were associated with 10 or more drinks during the week of conception when compared to couples who did not consume alcohol.
Alcohol and Female Fertility
Alcohol adversely affects female fertility, with health problems ranging from infertility to impairment of the fetus during pregnancy. Research has also shown that moderate to heavy drinking abuse can lead to an absence of menstruation, absence of ovulation, abnormal endometrial lining development and spontaneous miscarriages.
Fetal alcohol syndrome is the most prevalent birth defect caused by maternal alcohol consumption and is characterized by mental retardation, abnormally-shaped heads and growth deficiencies.
Alcohol and Male Fertility
Alcohol can also have a negative impact on male fertility. Alcohol can destroy healthy sperm cells and can cause atrophied testicles. Men can also experience lowered libido due to an alcohol-induced disease known as gynecomastia.
Consumption of large amounts of alcohol also has the ability to decrease the density of a male’s sperm count and cause abnormalities in the development and shape of a man’s sperm, including sperm without tails.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, a moderate drinking pattern means consuming no more than one alcoholic beverage per day for women. For men, moderate drinking means consuming no more than two alcoholic beverages per day.
Women should avoid drinking alcoholic beverages while attempting to become pregnant and should not drink any alcohol during pregnancy to reduce the risk of birth defects and fetal stress.