Heavy Drinking May Affect Female Fertility

     (CN) — Having just two alcoholic drinks per night could drastically reduce a woman’s ability to get pregnant, while one drink or less per night had no tangible effect on fertility.
     The findings were published Wednesday in the journal The BMJ.
     Danish researchers found a drastic reduction in women’s ability to become pregnant if they consumed 14 or more servings of alcohol per week. Women who drank two or more drinks per night had 37 pregnancies in 307 cycles — about 12 percent success rate — while women who didn’t drink got pregnant 1,381 times in 8,054 cycles, or about 17 percent of the time.
     “If alcohol is consumed moderately, it seems that this may not affect fertility,” Annie Britton, a researcher from University College London who was not involved in the study, said in a connected editorial. “Total abstinence may not be necessary to maximize conception rates.”
     Alcohol consumption was self-reported as 330 ml bottles of beer, 120 ml glasses of red or white wine, 50 ml glasses of dessert wine and 20 ml shots of hard liquor. The study included 6,120 female Danish residents between the ages of 21 and 45.
     Each of the participants completed bimonthly questionnaires for 12 months or until they became pregnant. The questionnaires contained questions related to alcohol use, menstrual cycles, frequency of intercourse, pregnancy status and smoking habits.
     The authors cautioned that while the sample size was large, only 1.2 percent of women drank more than 14 servings of alcohol a week so the findings may not be precise. As an observational study, it’s difficult to establish firm conclusions between cause and effect.
     The study also did not distinguish between regular and binge drinking, an important distinction since alcohol can affect the menstrual cycle. The team also did not measure the male partner’s alcohol intake, which is known to affect sperm quality.
     “It would be wise to avoid binge drinking, both for the potential disruption to menstrual cycles and also for the potential harm to a baby during early pregnancy,” Britton said. “If a couple is experiencing difficulty in conceiving, it makes sense for both partners to cut down on their alcohol intake.”

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