Alcohol affects fertility

Alcohol affects fertility

The use of alcohol has been present in our daily lives eventhough it is a toxic, which is harmful for the overall health. It is important to mention that alcohol has also negative effects, which impact fertility. Nowadays there are many studies that relate alcohol consumption with a decreasing fertility in men and women. The possible negative consequences to be experienced are related to the degree of alcohol consumption.

In a danish study was found that in developed countries, up to 24% of couples experience infertility defined as time to pregnancy of 12 months or more,(1 2 3) and alcohol consumption is considerable(4). Thus, the effect of alcohol consumption, especially at moderate levels (from one to seven servings a week), on fecundability is an important public health concern.

In general, women are more affected by alcohol than men because they have a lower metabolism of the alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme, which is the enzyme in the body responsible for metabolizing alcohol. Besides, the amount of this enzyme is lower than the amount found in men.

Alcohol consumption of more than one drink a day during pregnancy has been associated with low birth weight, preterm birth, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders(5 6). Official guidelines in several countries recommend maximum alcohol intake of seven drinks a week for non-pregnant women in general and no alcohol intake for pregnant women and women trying to conceive.(7 8 9)

In summary: Alcohol has negative effects if a couple is trying to conceive. Therefore it is important to know that alcohol consumption by the future mother or father delays the conception, increases the risk of spontaneous abortions and causes physical, psychological and behavioural problems in children.


1.Slama R, Hansen OK, Ducot B, et al. Estimation of the frequency of involuntary infertility on a nation-wide basis. Hum Reprod2012;27:1489-98. doi:10.1093/humrep/des070 pmid:22416008.

OpenUrlAbstract/FREE Full Text

2. Stephen EH, Chandra A. Updated projections of infertility in the United States: 1995-2025. Fertil Steril1998;70:30-4. doi:10.1016/S0015-0282(98)00103-4 pmid:9660416.

OpenUrlCrossRefPubMedWeb of Science

3. Thoma ME, McLain AC, Louis JF, et al. Prevalence of infertility in the United States as estimated by the current duration approach and a traditional constructed approach. Fertil Steril2013;99:1324-1331.e1. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2012.11.037 pmid:23290741.​ OpenUrlCrossRefPubMed

    4. World Health Organization. Global status report on alcohol and health 2014.WHO, 2014.

    5 May PA, Blankenship J, Marais AS, et al. Maternal alcohol consumption producing fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD): quantity, frequency, and timing of drinking. Drug Alcohol Depend2013;133:502-12. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2013.07.013 pmid:23932841. OpenUrlCrossRefPubMed

    6. Patra J, Bakker R, Irving H, Jaddoe VW, Malini S, Rehm J. Dose-response relationship between alcohol consumption before and during pregnancy and the risks of low birthweight, preterm birth and small for gestational age (SGA)-a systematic review and meta-analyses. BJOG2011;118:1411-21. doi:10.1111/j.1471-0528.2011.03050.x pmid:21729235.


      7.Danish Health Authority. Alcohol. 2014. https://sundhedsstyrelsen.dk/en/health-and-lifestyle/alcohol.

      8.International Alliance for Responsible Drinking. Drinking guidelines: general population. 2016. http://www.iard.org/policy-tables/drinking-guidelines-general-population.

      9. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dietary guidelines for Americans 2015-2020. 8th ed. 2015. http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines.