Regarding alcohol, women who consume alcohol in excess are at risk of amenorrhea (lack of menstruation), abnormal endometrial development and hyperprolactinemia. All of this is associated with infertility and an increased risk of miscarriages.
However, excessive alcohol consumption also negatively affects male fertility, reducing sperm quality and causing erectile dysfunction, among other effects.
The consequences of alcohol also affect the fetus, where mental retardation, growth retardation and birth defects can occur.
For all these reasons, and despite the fact that there is no established consensus on the safe amount of alcohol that can be consumed, it is advisable to abstain from drinking from the beginning of the search for pregnancy until after childbirth.
Provided below is an index with the 7 points we are going to expand on in this article.
Effects of alcohol on fertility
Lifestyle care is very important for the fertility of both men and women. High lifetime alcohol consumption could have negative consequences on reproductive capacity.
Relationship between alcohol and male fertility
Men who drink a lot of alcohol continuously and in large quantities may experience a decrease in sperm quality. High alcohol consumption may cause lower testosterone production, as well as poor sperm maturation. This would explain the negative impact of alcohol on male fertility.
In addition to the adverse effects of alcohol on male fertility discussed above, it can also have other consequences such as the following:
- Damage at the testicular level, affecting sperm production.
- Erectile dysfunction, causing problems in maintaining sexual relations and, therefore, conceiving.
- Increased stress and anxiety.
However, there is no consensus about alcohol consumption in men and its consequences on seminal parameters, but they do confirm a negative effect depending on the amount of alcohol consumed.
Excessive alcohol and female fertility
The situation is similar for women. Drinking a lot of alcohol is also not beneficial for female fertility. Some studies have concluded that women who drink several glasses of alcohol a day have a higher rate of miscarriages.
Other adverse effects of excessive alcohol consumption on female fertility are listed below:
- Alterations in the menstrual cycle, making it more difficult to predict the time of ovulation and the days of greatest fertility.
- Decrease in oocyte quality.
- Risk of diseases such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
- Problems for embryo implantation.
In short, moderate and occasional alcohol consumption would not have as much impact on fertility as excessive consumption in both men and women. However, the safest thing for those who are trying to have a baby is to abstain completely from alcohol.
Drinking alcohol during IVF
Alcohol hinders natural pregnancy, but it is also not compatible with pregnancies achieved through assisted reproduction techniques. It is most common for patients to stop drinking alcohol 3-6 months before starting any fertility treatment.
Assisted procreation, as any other medical treatment, requires that you rely on the professionalism of the doctors and staff of the clinic you choose. Obviously, each clinic is different. Get now your Fertility Report, which will select several clinics for you out of the pool of clinics that meet our strict quality criteria. Moreover, it will offer you a comparison between the fees and conditions each clinic offers in order for you to make a well informed choice.
The relationship between drinking alcohol and the success of assisted reproduction treatments depends on the amount of alcohol consumed. The effects of consuming large amounts of alcohol during IVF treatment may include:
- Decrease in oocyte retrieval.
- Poorer embryonic development.
- Reduced embryo implantation rate.
In addition, it has been seen that the rate of live IVF newborns in patients who consume alcohol is significantly reduced.
Consequences of drinking alcohol during pregnancy
Alcohol consumed during pregnancy crosses the placenta and is capable of reaching the fetus. Therefore, drinking alcohol during gestation can have serious consequences for the health of the fetus and cause the well known Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or FAS.
Some of the most common consequences of drinking alcohol during pregnancy are the following:
- Developmental delay.
- Congenital defects.
- Delayed growth.
- Low birth weight.
- Skull malformations.
In addition, pregnant women who drink alcohol have a higher risk of premature delivery and miscarriage. Therefore, it is recommended to avoid alcohol consumption until after pregnancy.
FAQs from users
Does alcohol affect sperm motility?
The relationship between alcohol and infertility is commonly accepted. It is true that it has been quantified or studied more in women, as they are more susceptible to the effect of alcohol as they have a faster gastrointestinal absorption and a slower metabolisation. It has also been studied that alcohol consumption can alter hormonal regulation, cause ovulation problems and its prohibitive consumption during pregnancy is well known. But what about men?
A study was carried out at the University of Southern Denmark in which more than 1000 men took part and assessed their semen quality and hormone values and how and in what quantity they consumed alcohol. The study concluded that the higher the amount of alcohol consumed, the lower the semen quality, especially the sperm concentration. Alcohol consumption can reduce testosterone production and thus the amount of mature sperm, affecting both quality and motility.
The recommendation is to reduce or avoid alcohol intake at least 3 months before trying to conceive or undergoing Assisted Human Reproduction treatment in order to maximise the quality of the gametes. There are genetic and biological factors that we cannot modify to improve our fertility, but there are others, such as leading a healthy life, that we can and that depend solely on us.
Does alcohol consumption cause teratozoospermia?
Yes, it is possible. Drinking alcohol can cause alterations in sperm quality. Studies have concluded that alcohol causes a reduction in the concentration of sperm in the ejaculate, as well as alterations in sperm formation. Alcohol could therefore be a reversible cause of teratozoospermia.
Suggested for you
If in addition to knowing the effects of alcohol on fertility you are also interested in knowing about other lifestyle habits, we recommend you read this article: Influence of lifestyle on fertility and assisted reproduction.
In any case, if you have been trying to get pregnant for some time without success, it is time to see a fertility specialist for different tests. Here is some detailed information you may find useful: When should you see a fertility specialist?
We make a great effort to provide you with the highest quality information.
🙏 Please share this article if you liked it. 💜💜 You help us continue!
Andrea Sansone, Massimiliano Sansone, Diana Vaamonde, Paolo Sgrò, Ciro Salzano, Francesco Romanelli, Andrea Lenzi, Luigi Di Luigi. Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2018 Nov 12;16(1):114. doi: 10.1186/s12958-018-0435-x (View)
Audrey W Y Lim, May C I van Schalkwyk, Nason Maani Hessari, Mark P Petticrew. Pregnancy, Fertility, Breastfeeding, and Alcohol Consumption: An Analysis of Framing and Completeness of Information Disseminated by Alcohol Industry-Funded Organizations (View)
Cristina de Angelis, Antonio Nardone, Francesco Garifalos, Claudia Pivonello, Andrea Sansone, Alessandro Conforti, Carla Di Dato, Felice Sirico, Carlo Alviggi, Andrea Isidori, Annamaria Colao, Rosario Pivonello. Smoke, alcohol and drug addiction and female fertility. Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2020 Mar 12;18(1):21. doi: 10.1186/s12958-020-0567-7 (View)
Moheiddin Alghobary, Taymour Mostafa. Addiction and human male fertility: A systematic review and a critical appraisal. Andrology. 2022 Sep;10(6):1073-1095. doi: 10.1111/andr.13196. Epub 2022 May 30 (View)
Renata Finelli, Filomena Mottola, Ashok Agarwal. Impact of Alcohol Consumption on Male Fertility Potential: A Narrative Review. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Dec 29;19(1):328. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19010328 (View)
FAQs from users: 'Does alcohol affect sperm motility?' and 'Does alcohol consumption cause teratozoospermia?'.