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Alcohol and Fertility: What's the Link?

06.29.2020 / Isabella Brown
Alcohol and Fertility: What's the Link?

If you’re trying to conceive, you’ve likely heard that it’s best to minimize your drinking. Scientifically, there’s a lot of validity to this advice. There is a link between alcohol and fertility, and this link can affect people of any sex. 

The link     How much alcohol is too much?     Is it OK to drink in moderation?     How to drink less

How are alcohol and fertility related?

Alcohol and fertility and related because it can cause ovulatory issues in women and decrease sperm quality in men. 

Alcohol and fertility in women

Drinking alcohol can increase the time it takes to get pregnant, cause irregular cycles, and interfere with ovulation for women. 

Heavy drinking can also cause ovulatory issues, which are the number one cause of infertility. Binge drinking (more than five standard drinks in one occasion) is known to cause miscarriage, still birth, premature birth, and Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

Alcohol and fertility in men

In men, heavy drinking can decrease sexual performance and affect sperm quality. 

Heavy drinking can also impact fertility by lowering testosterone levels, FSH, lutenizing hormone (LH), and by raising estrogen levels, all of which reduce sperm production. Drinking heavily can also change the shape, size, and movement of healthy sperm.


How much alcohol is too much for fertility?

Heavy drinking, which is considered more than seven drinks a week or three drinks a day, can impact your fertility. Heavy drinking can not only decrease the chance of a live birth, but also impacts your ability to conceive, as it interferes with reproductive functions and menstrual cycles. Women who recorded heavily drinking were 18% less likely to conceive. 

Is it OK to drink in moderation?

Some studies have shown that drinking in moderation — less than seven drinks per week — does not impede on fertility. 

However, there's a risk in drinking, even moderately, when trying to conceive, as women are advised not to drink at any point in their pregnancies. A study of couples going through IVF revealed that women who drank four drinks a week were 16% less likely to have a live birth, while when both partners drank, the live birth rate was reduced by 21%. 

If there is a chance you may be pregnant, drinking should be avoided.

What you can do to drink less 

Drinking is very much ingrained in modern society, in social settings, as a way to relax, and as part of enjoying a meal or event. Because of the common nature of alcohol, it’s easier said than done to completely cut drinking out of your life. However, there are some strategies for cutting alcohol consumption. 

  • Agree to drink less with your partner or the people you live with. It’s easier to stop drinking when the people around you don’t drink. Make a plan with those around you for extra support in lowering alcohol consumption. ⠀
  • Set personal limits. For example, decide early in the evening that you’ll only be having one drink that night, or not drinking at all. It may also be helpful to choose alcohol-free days in advance, in order to limit consumption. ⠀
  • Keep busy with other activities. Instead of drinking, choose to watch a movie, take a walk, play a game or revisit an old hobby.
  • If you decide to drink in moderation, keep track of how much you and your partner are drinking. Remember that moderate drinking is defined as no more than seven drinks a week. 


No one is perfect — if you decide to have a glass of wine at dinner, or one drink with a friend, you don’t need to beat yourself up. It’s all about balance. That being said, when you’re trying to conceive, health, nutrition, and wellness is key to boosting your fertility. Minimizing alcohol consumption will likely make you feel healthier, and more in control of your cycle and fertility. 


  • Can alcohol keep you from getting pregnant? Yes, alcohol can affect your ability to conceive. In women, it can affect ovulatory issues, and in men, it can decrease sperm quality.
  • How long does alcohol stay in your system for fertility? The effects of alcohol on fertility, specifically on sperm quality, can go away within three months, according to one study. If alcohol affects your cycle, it may take a few months to return to a normal cycle.
  • Is it okay to drink while ovulating? If you’re trying to conceive, it’s advised not to drink while ovulating — as those who drink while pregnant have a lower chance of a live birth.
  • Can men drink alcohol while trying to conceive? Alcohol affects every sex’s ability to conceive, and in men, alcohol can decrease sperm quality. If you’re trying to conceive, it’s advised that both partners limit their alcohol consumption.


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