Women’s fertility not affected by moderate drinking

1st September, 2016 by Lauren Eads

Women who drink a moderate amount of alcohol are not putting their chances of conceiving at risk, according to a study of more than 6,000 Danish women.

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Moderate drinking, defined as no more than 14 ‘servings’ per week, did not have a significant impact on a woman’s ability to conceive.

The study, carried out by a team of Danish researchers and published in the British Medical Journal, analysed the drinking habits of more than 6,100 Danish women aged between 21 and 45 years old, between June 2007 and January 2016.

It found that consuming less than 14 “servings” a week had no discernible effect on a woman’s ability to conceive, compared with women that did not drink, however importantly the study did not take into account miscarriages or the impact of drinking throughout a pregnancy.

One serving of beer was measured as a 330ml bottle, while red or white wine was a 120ml glass, dessert wine was a 50ml serving and spirits were categorised as 20ml.

Each female participant completed a bi-monthly questionnaire for 12 months, or until conception occurred, on alcohol use, pregnancy status, menstrual cycles, frequency of intercourse, and smoking.

Women who drank more than 14 servings a week had an 18% lower chance of getting pregnant, the study concluded.

Speaking to the BBC Professor Simon Fishel, who is the managing director of Care Fertility, said that while the sample size of the study was large and showed “excellent statistical methods” we must not confuse a healthy pregnancy with the ability to conceive.

“The study implies that with up to 14 ‘servings’ per week the chance of conceiving was no different from those who did not consume alcohol”, he said.

“However, as the study ended at a home pregnancy test, no measure of miscarriage or even the presence of a foetal heart was reported, giving no insight into the health of the conception.”

In the UK, one in six couples struggle to conceive, with current NHS guidelines recommending that “if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, the safest approach is not to drink alcohol at all, to keep risks to your baby to a minimum”.

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