Alcohol and fertility

The scientific evidence about how low to moderate drinking affects a man’s fertility isn’t clear. People often have difficulty accurately reporting their alcohol consumption and it’s hard to do research that isolates alcohol as a lifestyle factor.

Alcohol has been shown to affect male and female fertility, but the level of consumption associated with risk is unclear.

Heavy drinking of alcohol reduces men’s fertility; it can cause impotence, reduce libido and affect sperm quality.

The mechanisms by which alcohol could impair fertility are unclear, but in men it can cause impotence, reduce libido and affect sperm quality.

The National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines for alcohol consumption suggests that for healthy men and women, drinking no more than two standard drinks on any day reduces the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury, including the negative affects on fertility.

A study of couples undergoing assisted reproductive treatment that looked at male and female alcohol consumption in the year prior to treatment as well as during treatment found both male and female alcohol consumption decreased the chance of a live, healthy baby and increased the risk of miscarriage.


So if you’re trying for a baby, the National Health & Medical Research Council recommends that men abide by the safe drinking guidelines and women don’t drink at all. It doesn’t have to be forever!

Need help to reduce or stop drinking?
Visit the Better Health Channel to see tips on how to reduce your consumption and seek advice from your General Practitioner (GP).

In Australia, a standard drink refers to 10 grams of alcohol. Become aware of your actual alcohol intake in terms of the “standard drink”, calculate your alcohol consumption at DrinkWise Australia.

For more information on the health risks of alcohol consumption, visit The Better Health Channel

Myth conception

The myth:

"Drinking affects your driving but not your fertility."

The truth:

Drinking alcohol can reduce a man's fertility.

If the male partner consumes more than 20 units of alcohol per week it takes longer for his partner to conceive.

Fertility Factor: alcohol

Ever seen drunk eggs and sperm trying to get together? No? Now's your chance...

Read the transcript

Fertility fact sheets

These fertility fact sheets have been developed by the Fertility Coalition in association with the Fertility Society of Australia’s Preconception Health Special Interest Group. For those interested in the science of it all!

Timing - for men Alcohol affects a woman's fertility