Three less well-known facts are:

·      drinking any amount of alcohol can make it more difficult for you to conceive

·      alcohol can affect both male and female fertility

·      if you are male or female, drinking alcohol prior to conception can increase the risk of heart defects in your child, particularly if the drinking is excessive

So, how does alcohol affect fertility and what can be done to reduce the risk?

How does alcohol affect female fertility?

‘Alcohol can decrease female fertility. A recent review has shown that light drinking reduces fertility in women, and fertility is reduced even further in women drinking moderately or heavily.’ (Drink aware, 2022)

Evidence suggests that drinking alcohol can impair your egg quality and reduce your libido. It can contribute to irregular menstrual cycles and affect ovulation and implantation. Excessive drinking can also damage your egg reserves, making your eggs less viable. The sugar in alcoholic drinks can affect your hormone balance, especially if you have PCOS. Alcohol can also reduce sleep quality, which, in turn, can also affect fertility.

To increase your chances of conceiving, official guidelines recommend that you avoid alcohol while trying to conceive and also during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Your GP can offer you advice, if you are struggling to reduce or cut out alcohol.

How does alcohol affect male fertility?

‘Drinking more that the UK low risk drinking guidelines (14 units per week) lowers testosterone levels and sperm quality and quantity in men.11,12 That’s because men who regularly exceed the guidelines are at risk of destroying sperm-producing cells in the testicles, affecting the quality of their sperm.’(Drink aware, 2022)

Alcohol can impair testicular function, which can have a negative impact on sperm morphology and motility. Alcohol also affects the liver, which is responsible for metabolising vitamin A, needed for sperm to develop.  

Excess alcohol consumption can also cause impotence.

Your GP can offer you advice, if you are struggling to reduce or cut out alcohol.

How else can we increase our chances of conceiving?

As a woman, you are born with all of the eggs that you will ever have. Cutting out alcohol cannot reverse any damage, however, cutting it out can help to reduce the risk of further damage and help you to preserve the quality of your eggs.

Eating a balanced diet, doing regular, gentle exercise and having a healthy BMI, are all beneficial when trying to conceive.Cutting out smoking will also help.

As a man, although you may not be able to repair some damage caused by alcohol, your body will be constantly creating new sperm.That means that any changes you make to your health and wellbeing now, including cutting out alcohol, can significantly increase your chances of conceiving in just a few months.

Eating a balanced diet, doing regular, gentle exercise and having a healthy BMI, are all beneficial for increasing fertility and improving your chances of conceiving. Cutting out smoking will also help.

Here at the IVF Network, we understand that going through infertility and having fertility treatment can be challenging. That’s why, we provide information through our dedicated channel of experts, our website and our blog posts, to help you to make more informed choices on your personal fertility journey.

After seeing your GP, if you are still finding it difficult to change your relationship with alcohol, then they may be able to refer you for further support, or suggest organisations that may be able to help.


‘Is alcohol affecting your fertility?’ June 2022, Drink aware

Alcohol and Fertility in Females,,of%20the%20lining%20of%20the%20uterus%20preventing%20implantation