It turns out that booze can cause some real issues for fertility treatment – especially in men.
New research reveals that just one alcoholic drink a day can reduce a man’s chances of conceiving.
The study, by the Tongji Hospital in Shanghai, China, looked into 27,000 adults who underwent fertility treatment. They found that live births fell by 9% in men who drank seven alcohol beverages, or 84g of alcohol a week, compared with people who drank no alcohol.
This means that drinking just one alcoholic drink a day can reduce fertility success when undergoing treatment by a whole tenth.
According to the study, alcohol affects fertility in men by reducing the number of sperm they have, as well as altering the size, shape and motility of the sperm.
Alcohol can also result in improper implantation in the womb, increasing chances of early pregnancy loss.
Alcohol doesn’t do a great deal of good for women undergoing fertility treatment either but, according to this new research, their chances decrease by a smaller percentage.
In women who drank 84g of alcohol, chances of pregnancy fell by 7%.
Dr Yufeng Li, an author of the study, said ‘Couples should be aware some modifiable lifestyle factors such as drinking habits may affect their fertility treatment outcomes.’
But he points out that how alcohol impacts the reproductive system specifically, still needs more research.
‘In the process of alcohol metabolism, reactive oxygen species (ROS) may form,’ Li explained. ‘Excessive production of ROS increases oxidative stress, which is thought to be a contributor to endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, unexplained infertility, spontaneous abortion and recurrent pregnancy loss.’
He adds that ‘modifiable lifestyle factors’ such as smoking and habitual alcohol drinking may contribute to production and exposure of ROS.
‘This may partially explain why alcohol intake is associated with impaired IVF outcomes,’ Li said.
This new study adds to a large pile of existing research on the effect of alcohol on fertility success.
A study in 2020 found a link between alcohol consumption and congenital heart diseases in children, and the UK Chief Medical Officers’ low risk drinking guidelines recommends that women trying to have a baby, or pregnant women, should not drink alcohol at – all to keep health risks to the baby as low as possible.
Though more research is needed to uncover exactly how this happens, Li says the the toxicity of alcohol on those undergoing fertility treatment has been ‘well-established’.
‘The safest level of drinking when undergoing fertility treatment is zero,’ he says.
It seems that if couples are struggling to conceive, their best bet is to cut alcohol out.
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