Three glasses of wine could reduce chance of conception

Drinking three small glasses of wine a week could reduce a woman’s chances of conceiving by two thirds, research has found. The study of women’s drinking habits in the months before they began fertility treatment found that even low quantities of alcohol had a dramatic impact on the ability to conceive. Research on couples who had already undergone around three failed cycles of IVF, found that women who abstained from all alcohol had a 90 percent chance of achieving a successful pregnancy, over three years.

However, women who drank an average of just three small glasses of wine a week had a 30 percent chance of conceiving over the same period. Researchers said the same patterns were likely to hold true for couples trying to conceive naturally. The study found that even women who drank just one or two glasses of wine a week – well within Government safe drinking limits for those trying to conceive – drastically jeopardized their fertility, with success rates of 66 percent.

Government advice recommends that women trying to get pregnant should drink no more than 1 to 2 units of alcohol twice a week – the equivalent of up to two glasses of wine. Researchers who led the study of 90 women, presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s annual conference in Boston, US, said it was not clear why relatively small quantities of alcohol had such an impact.

Lead author Dara Godfrey, an IVF specialist from Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York, said: “My advice to patients is always to limit or abstain from alcohol.  But whether they do or not it’s up to them.  Alcohol definitely has a detrimental effect on pregnancy success.”

Dr. Godfrey said the same impact was likely to occur in women trying to conceive naturally, with the greatest effect likely to be felt among those who had several drinks on the same evening. She said researchers had not identified the mechanism which meant alcohol reduced fertility, but that it was possible it jeopardizes normal egg development. Dr. Allan Pacey, a fertility expert at the University of Sheffield said the differences in pregnancy rates between the groups were substantial, and consistent with advice to avoid alcohol if trying to conceive.

However, he said it was possible that there were other differences between the women who abstained from alcohol entirely, and those who had several drinks a week. Dr. Pacey said: “I would wonder whether alcohol could be a surrogacy marker for something else – that the women who have something to drink are more likely to be stressed.” Stress levels affect hormones such as Cortisol which can interfere with reproductive cycles. The university’s research on sperm quality last year suggested that moderate intake of alcohol did not affect male fertility, he said.

“There is a certainly a bit of a difficulty in advising men that it is okay for them to drink if trying to conceive but women shouldn’t touch a drop – that could create tensions in many a household,” he said.


Article by Laura Donnelly, Health Correspondent October 18, 2013 – The Telegraph, UK