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News1999February › Drinking alcohol may reduce female fertility › February 1999

Drinking alcohol may reduce female fertility

A woman's ability to conceive may be reduced if she consumes even moderate levels of alcohol, according to Danish research

A woman's ability to conceive may be reduced if she consumes even moderate levels of alcohol, according to Danish research.

In the Danish study, 430 couples, aged 20 to 35, who were trying to conceive for the first time were followed for six menstrual cycles. The chance of conceiving was strongly related to the number of alcoholic drinks consumed each week by the women, but not the men. The type of alcoholic beverage did not matter.

The researchers also found that high consumption of alcohol was related to other aspects of a woman's health and lifestyle. For instance, women who drank while trying to conceive tended to be older and thinner; they also generally smoked and consumed more caffeine.

The authors of the study suggest there may be several ways that alcohol directly interferes with conception. It may inhibit ovulation, or interfere with sperm transportation to the Fallopian tubes. It may also affect oestrogen receptors in the liver or cause menstrual disturbance. Whatever the mechanism, the message was clear: if you want to get pregnant, don't drink (BMJ, 1998; 317: 505-10).


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