Alcohol and Fertility: How Drinking Decreases Your Chances Of Pregnancy

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Many people don’t think twice about having a drink or two with dinner. And in some social settings, you may even feel awkward without a drink in your hand. But while indulging in the occasional alcoholic beverage is okay for some people, it isn’t the best choice for couples trying to get pregnant.

Heavy drinking can significantly reduce your likelihood of conceiving. And while having a drink every now and then will not necessarily ruin your chances, it won’t help them either. Whether you’re consuming a little, or a lot of alcohol, it’s best to cut out drinking for a smoother, easier conception journey.

Below, we’ll discuss the relationship of alcohol and fertility, and the impact of excessive drinking on your chances of starting a family.

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How Alcohol Affects Your Relationship

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Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

It’s no secret that alcohol can sometimes come between couples. The amount a person drinks, or their behavior when drunk, can be a source of tension in a relationship. If a partner is concerned about their significant other’s alcohol consumption, that problem should be taken seriously—especially when trying for a baby.

Here are three of the main way ways alcohol can affect relationships, and ultimately a couple’s chances of getting pregnant:

More Arguments

If you don’t like how much your partner drinks, or vice versa, it can lead to a lot of conflict between the two of you. Having disagreements now and then is normal in any relationship. However, constant fighting isn’t healthy for either party.

Verbal arguments without reconciliation take a major toll on people’s mental health by increasing anxiety, stress, and chances of depression. And if you’re consistently on bad terms with your partner over alcohol, chances are you won’t want to work on having a baby with them. The time you spend arguing and being mad at one another ultimately takes away from your time trying to produce a child.

Increased Stress Levels

Trying to conceive can already be a really stressful time for couples. That stress might make people want to turn to alcohol to give them some relief.

In truth, however, alcohol can actually have the opposite effect, and increase stress in some individuals. Heavy drinking can actually cause the release of higher amounts of cortisol and adrenocorticotropic hormone. Cortisol is your body’s main stress hormone, and regulates things like your mood and your fight-or-flight response.

When it comes to conception, high stress levels can decrease your interest in sex. Instead of focusing on producing a child, your attention will be on the things currently stressing you out.

Read More: Alcohol and Stress

Less Intimacy

Intimacy is one of the most important aspects of any healthy relationship, and is especially vital when trying to conceive. The quality of the connection you have with your partner will make it either harder or easier to get pregnant.

When alcohol makes an appearance, the emotional and physical bonds between the two of you can be tested. Alcoholic beverages can change a person’s mood and behavior, sometimes without them even knowing it. After a few drinks, the one you love, or you yourself, can act like a completely different person. This can create distance and undermine the closeness usually present in your relationship, impacting your sex life.

How Alcohol Affects Your Reproductive Health

Impacts on Ovulation

It’s widely assumed that it’s okay for women to drink up until the time they get pregnant. But, as professor Sarah Robertson explains in an interview with Your Fertility, it’s best to quit unhealthy habits, like binge-drinking, at least three months prior to conceiving.

Alcohol can increase the time it takes to get pregnant by altering a woman’s menstrual cycle. Heavy drinking can cause irregular periods, and even smaller amounts of alcohol might affect ovulation. Establishing healthy habits before a child is even conceived also promotes a healthier environment for the baby in the future. It’s also a good idea to stop smoking cigarettes, vaping, or eating unhealthy foods when trying for a baby.

Reduced Sperm Count

When it comes to conceiving a child, men’s reproductive health is just as important. How much sperm a man makes, and the quality of those sperm, is one of the leading factors in pregnancy. Low sperm count or quality decreases the chances of a woman’s egg getting fertilized, and makes creating a child more difficult.

It turns out that consuming too much alcohol also affects fertility for men, and can impact the quality of the sperm they produce. It’s important to note that drinking moderately is generally okay. But men trying to conceive a child should avoid binge drinking, or any type of heavy alcohol consumption.

Sexual Dysfunctions

Erectile Dysfunction

Besides causing stress and intimacy issues in the bedroom, alcohol also takes a physical toll on couples trying to conceive. For men specifically, the effects of alcohol can cause erectile dysfunction (ED). Drinking heavily can reduce the amount of blood flowing to the penis, and make it hard to maintain an erection.

While there are quick fixes you can consult with your doctor about, like Viagra for ED, that should not be your crutch forever. Those types of prescriptions are better for short term use—it’s best not to get dependent on them. Lowering your alcohol consumption or quitting altogether is the best course of action here for better results.

Reduced Sexual Arousal

Just as men may have trouble getting an erection after drinking too much, women may also have a difficult time getting physically aroused after consuming too much alcohol. Studies show that excessive drinking can reduce the amount of vaginal lubrication the female body makes, even among women who report feeling sexually excited.

While couples who still want to engage in consensual sex can use lubricants to make things easier, it can still feel uncomfortable. Conceiving a child shouldn’t feel awkward or arduous for either of you. Overall, the less each of you drink, the more fun you’re likely to have together between the sheets. This will make creating a baby much less stressful.

Quitting alcohol cold turkey can be hard for many people. If you find that you’re drinking a lot, it may be best to lower your alcohol intake gradually a few months before you begin trying to conceive a child. Try to set an eventual goal of only a few drinks a week, or none at all. While it may seem hard at first, your dedication will be worth it in the end when you get to hold your healthy, happy baby.

If you or your partner is struggling to stop drinking, there are new options for getting help. Ria Health’s telemedicine program gives you all the tools you need to reduce your alcohol consumption, from an app on your smartphone. Learn more about how it works, or get in touch with a member of our team today.

Written By:
Ria Health Team
Our experienced team is committed to transforming alcohol addiction treatment.
Reviewed By:
Evan O'Donnell
NYC-based content strategist with over 3 years editing and writing in the recovery space. Strong believer in accessible, empathic, and fact-based communication.
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