Alcohol and Pregnancy

drink water

by Angie Best-Boss

Even a few drinks per week (by either a male or female partner) can create fertility problems.


Drinking just five or fewer drinks a week can create all sorts of fertility havoc, including:

  • Increased risk for spontaneous abortion
  • Impaired fetal growth and development
  • Hypothalmic-pituitary-ovarian dysfunction resulting in the lack of ovulation, the abnormal development of the endometrial lining, and the absence of menses
  • Increased risk for a miscarriage, pre-term birth, or stillbirth
  • Numerous ovulatory dysfunctions
  • Increased risk of fetal alcohol syndrome and possible congenital heart defects and brain anomalies
  • Increased menstrual problems and risks of gynecologic surgery
  • Altered estrogen and progesterone levels

Over-age drinking

The fertility factor may not be just how many drinks a day you have, but how old you are when you drink them. A Danish study suggests that alcohol intake was unassociated with infertility among younger women, but was a significant predictor for infertility among women above age 30. When all other factors were considered, women over 30 who drank were twice as likely to have fertility problems as women over 30 who did not drink.

Skip the Sauce

The safest route? Treat your body as if you were pregnant, since you could be pregnant at any time. No one has ever determined what a safe level of drinking is when you are pregnant, so why take chances? Drinking heavily while you are pregnant puts your child at risk for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Some of the characteristics of FAS include: deficient growth, mental retardation, and typical heart shaped facial appearance. Even worse, a child with FAS has a 30 to 40 percent chance of having with brain anomalies or congenial heart defects. Very early research suggests drinking alcohol during pregnancy may be related to same cases of autism as well.


You're supposed to give up briefs, hot tubs, cigs and now your poker night beer? Maybe not completely, but now is the time to cut-back on your alcohol consumption. Drinking alcohol can:

  • Increase level of abnormal shaped sperms
  • Create abnormal liver function
  • Raise estrogen levels which may interfere with sperm development
  • Kill off the sperm-generating cells in the testicle

How much is too much?

Limit the amount of alcohol you drink to no more than 1 to 2 drinks a week, says the University of Michigan Health System. So, go out with friends, but nurse that beer for a while. On the other hand, Infertility specialist Dr. Michael Werner suggests that moderate alcohol use does not affect male fertility.

So, the jury is still out on moderate drinking, but the dangers of moderate drinking are clear. Men who regularly drink large amounts of alcohol or engage in binge drinking (four or more drinks in one evening) are likely to have serious problems with their fertility.

Your sperm count can rebound

Low sperm count

If you've had semen analysis done and your sperm count was low, stop kicking back the cold ones for three months, and then retake the test. You may be pleasantly surprised how getting rid of the toxins can boost your numbers.

Quick Tips:

  • No amount of alcohol is really safe in pregnancy.
  • If you usually drink, quit if you are trying to get pregnant or if you think you're pregnant.
  • If you can't quit drinking by yourself, get help quickly.

Dive Deeper

Related Articles

Online Resources

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Alcoholics Anonymous


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