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Are you trying to conceive but you drink alcohol on a regular basis? Know tips to conceive

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Medically Reviewed by Dr. Deepika Tiwari - MBBS on 12 Dec 2018 - Written by Dr. Mala Raj - MBBS - Grammatically Approved by Dr. Kavita Jaggi Agrawal - MBBS

Alcohol is injurious to health, especially for women who are are trying to conceive. If you want to really conceive fast, then you need to make sure that you get rid of alcohol. Alcohol also plays role in failure of occurrence of pregnancy. There is high risk of health issues to the mother as well as baby.

According to a study, three out of four women continue to consume alcoholic beverages while trying to get pregnant. Once a woman is pregnant, she needs to stop drinking because of the possible damage to the developing child can be serious enough to abstain from alcohol for nine months.

Since the early phase of pregnancy is the most vulnerable, the safest choice is to not drink at all if a woman is pregnant, planning to become pregnant or breastfeeding. Even drinking lightly can reduce the chance of pregnancy. Alcohol quickly crosses the placenta to the fetus, which is often exposed to higher amounts than the mother due to its lower ability to process alcohol. Because of this, consumption of alcohol during pregnancy can cause numerous disorders within the spectrum of fetal alcohol syndrome. These disorders include physical disabilities, learning, behavioral disorder that may have a life-long impact.

There are three questions every woman should consider if she is planning to conceive:

  • Could drink alcohol when trying to conceive cause harm to the unborn child?
  • Do drinking hard drinks lower fertility rates, making it difficult to get pregnant?
  • Could drinking in early pregnancy increase the risk of miscarriage?

Risk to the Mother

Alcohol can also affect a pregnant woman negatively, especially if she is struggling with addiction issues. She may suffer from psychological disorders, poor nutrition, smoke, or weigh less than average. All these issues place the unborn child at a risk of developing alcohol related health problems. After a baby is born, drinking habits may affect parenting and care giving abilities of the mother, resulting in negative effects for both her and her child. Mothers with post-natal depression or those who lack support can be more likely to underestimate the amount of alcohol they have drunk. Drinking more than five times a week can reduce a woman’s chances of conceiving, and 10 drinks or more decreases the likelihood of conception even further. According to a study women who consume 14 units or more per week had 37 pregnancies in 307 cycles, and those who did not drink had 1,381 pregnancies in 8,054 cycles. Women who drink during pregnancy may also put their own health at risk, they may experience vomiting and dehydration, high blood pressure, nutritional deficiency and gestational diabetes. Alcohol affects everyone differently, so the safest thing to do is to not consume alcohol at all. If a woman has had many infertility issues before, it is imperative that she should avoid alcohol while she is trying to get pregnant. Even if a woman is trying to conceive through In Vitro Fertilization, alcohol consumption can lower the chance of IVF treatment turning out to be successful.

How To Conceive, Drinking Affects Fertility

Risk to Baby's Health

Drinking alcohol at any time while planning to conceive can cause serious health problems to the baby. Alcohol includes wine, wine coolers, beer and liquor. Alcohol present in the blood quickly passes through the placenta and the umbilical cord of the baby. The placenta grows in the uterus (womb) and supplies the baby with food and oxygen through the umbilical cord. Drinking any amount of alcohol at any time during pregnancy can harm the baby’s developing brain and other parts of the organs. No amount of alcohol consumption has been proven safe at any time during pregnancy. Drinking alcohol can increase the baby's chances of having these problems:

  • Premature birth when the baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Problems with growth and development and brain damage.
  • Birth defects such as hearing or vision problems. Birth defects can also cause problems in overall health; the way body develops or works.

FASDs (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders) include intellectual and developmental disabilities. These problems are associated with problems while learning, communicating, taking care of oneself or communicating with others and delays in physical development. In cases of fetal alcohol syndrome or fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, the baby may have several distinctive features which include:

  • Smaller head
  • Shorter height as compared to children of the same age
  • Low weight
  • Smooth ridge between the nose and upper lip
  • The child experiences hyperactivity in addition to heart, skeletal, kidney, vision, or hearing problems.

Binge drinking increases the chances of having a baby with FASDs including low birth weight babies (weighing less than five pounds or eight ounces), miscarriage and stillbirth (when a baby dies in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy)

Getting Pregnant, Drinking Affects Fertility

Impact of Alcohol on Female Fertility

In many cases, infertile women who seek medical care for their fertility issues are known to have a significantly higher alcohol intake than women who conceive naturally. Alcoholic beverages contain a lot of sugar which decreases fertility by contributing to hormonal imbalance, insulin resistance, vitamin and mineral deficiency, yeast infection and lowered immunity. All of these factors may impair fertility for both men and women. Drinking alcohol during the time of ovulation lowers the chance of successful conception. Frequent alcohol consumption may result in increased incidence of the menstrual disorders amenorrhea, irregular menstrual cycles and dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation). There is strong scientific evidence that alcohol can reduce fertility in both men and women. Women who consume more than four alcoholic beverages a week take longer to get pregnant. The risks of low birth weight, preterm birth, and small for gestational age (SGA, for a baby) all may increase when mothers drink above one to two units a day during or before pregnancy.

Most women give up on alcohol once they are planning to become pregnant or when they know they are pregnant. It may not be difficult to avoid alcohol completely for nine months, as many women go off the taste of alcohol early in pregnancy. A pregnant woman or anyone trying to conceive should never attempt to stop drinking on his or her own. Seeking help from a professional is important to manage potentially life-threatening symptoms.

Tips to Reduce Alcohol Consumption

Women with more serious patterns of abuse (binge drinking, dependence) should seek an in-depth counseling and rehabilitation treatment. Rehabilitation centers have professionals who can offer relevant treatment and information in order to stop alcohol consumption without the risk of relapse. Abstinence after a period of drinking can significantly improve the mother's and baby's health compared to drinking throughout pregnancy. Additionally, there are various possible therapies, interventions, and resources that can help women to stop drinking during pregnancy or while trying to get pregnant. Seeking support from family members, social support groups, religion and materials such as books that discuss issues pertaining to alcohol use have the potential for bringing about a change in social and behavioral aspects. Social support plays an important role in reminding women addicted to alcohol consumption on the need to abstain. Additionally, one should avoid motivators for alcohol consumption such as friends who may encourage drinking and other maladaptive behaviors while trying to conceive.

Helpful tips:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Get some exercise or take a walk, dance, go for a swim
  • Keep stress away and smile often
  • Do some meditation
  • Do deep breathing exercise

If you are trying to conceive and concerned about the impact of your lifestyle choices on your fertility, consult Elawoman. Ela can help you identify ways to improve your fertility and boost your chances of getting pregnant. Call us at +917899912611.

Dr. Mala Raj

Written by

Laparoscopic Surgeon
Chennai

Dr. Mala Raj is an infertility specialist, obstetrician and gynecologist specializing in IVF, IUI, Reproductive Medicine and Gynecology Laparoscopy procedures. Dr. Mala Raj has completed her MBBS from Kilpauk Medical College in 1992, DGO from Sriramachandra Medical College in 1996. Then, she pursued Advanced Gynecology Laparoscopy Surgery and Diploma in Reproductive Medicine from Kiel University in Germany in 2001 and 2014 respectively. You can visit Elawoman.com for more details.

SOURCES AND REFERENCES:


1.  7 must do things to opt for while trying to get pregnant - how to get pregnant?  trying to get pregnant, Elawoman - 2017
2.  What are the evident signs and symptoms of ovulation in women?  ovulation, Elawoman - 2017
3.  Best period tracker app - know the best way to track menstrual cycle  irregular menstrual cycles, Elawoman - 2018

7 Comments

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Abbey Joe

I want to conceive but my husband doesn't quit drinking. Will I be able to conceive with this?

Oct. 3, 2018, 10:35 a.m. 5.0

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Meenakshi Dixit

I got the points why alcohol consumption is bad for pregnancy. Thanks for sharing this.

Sept. 17, 2018, 10:13 p.m. 5.0

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Sasmita Raghu

Akpeteshie is the most preferred alcoholic beverage among pregnant women. They are produced by distilling palm wine or sugar cane.

May 29, 2018, 8:56 a.m. 4.5

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Gauri Jha

I drink occasionally. Is that harmful too for my fertility?

March 5, 2018, 5:16 p.m. 4.5

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Mohit Mhatre

Smoking has very adverse effects on fertility as it can change the DNA in sperm. In fact, 75% of infants with fetal liquor disorder, a kind of birth defect is typically connected with maternal utilization of liquor amid pregnancy accounts even for father taking alcohol regularly.

Nov. 2, 2017, 2:08 p.m. 5.0

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Sunita Sindhu

It is a fact that ladies who devour more than 5 mixed drinks for seven days take more time to get pregnant. Moreover, ladies who drink 5 or less mixed beverages on an average of seven days have very low fertility chances.

Nov. 2, 2017, 2:03 p.m. 4.5

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Chandini Methwa

I avoid drinking since the day I planned to conceive until my child was 2 years old or I was not breastfeeding. Alcohol can weaken your immune and you will be an easy target for various diseases.

Sept. 23, 2017, 10:03 a.m. 4.5

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