Alcohol and fertility

The scientific evidence about how low to moderate drinking affects women’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.

However there is enough evidence that alcohol has a negative effect on fertility for the National Health and Medical Research Council to recommend that women trying to get pregnant should not drink alcohol at all.

Heavy drinking affects fertility, increasing the length of time it takes to get pregnant and reducing the chances of having a healthy baby.

Heavy drinking can definitely affect fertility, increasing the length of time it takes to get pregnant and reducing the chances of having a healthy baby.

The National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines also say that:

  • For healthy women, drinking no more than two standard drinks on any day reduces the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury.
  • Heavy drinking before pregnancy is also known to affect a women’s health. Women who consume large amounts of alcohol (seven or more drinks a week or more than three drinks on one occasion) are more likely to have heavy or irregular periods and take longer to get pregnant.
  • For women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, not drinking is the safest option. For women who are breastfeeding, not drinking is the safest option.

 

Need help to reduce or stop drinking? Visit the Australian Drug Information Network for a list of national and state services in Australia.

Want more information about what is “a standard drink”? Visit DrinkWise Australia.

Myth conception

The myth:

"A woman should stop drinking alcohol once she is pregnant, but until then there is no reason to."

The truth:

Heavy drinking affects fertility, increasing the length of time it takes to get pregnant and reducing the chances of having a healthy baby. For women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, not drinking is the safest option.

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