Effects of Alcohol on Female/Male Fertility

Does Drinking Alcohol Cause Infertility?


The risks of drinking alcohol during pregnancy are well understood, with heavy drinking linked to fetal alcohol syndrome, miscarriage, premature delivery and low birth weight. For this reason, Government guidelines recommend that all women stop drinking before trying to conceive(1). However, can drinking alcohol prevent pregnancy altogether? Lifestyle choices certainly have an impact on fertility and besides keeping active and choosing foods to help fertility, specialists in reproductive medicine advise that women give up alcohol, cigarettes and drugs to increase their chances of conception. Even if you are not thinking of starting a family just yet, you may want to consider the impact of your drinking habits now, as heavy consumption of alcohol may still affect your future fertility. Equally, it is not just an issue for women, with many men unaware that alcohol can also affect their fertility too.

Alcohol and Female Fertility

With CDC figures showing that just over half of women of reproductive age drink alcohol, the association between alcohol use and fertility is an important issue for a lot of women(2). This is especially the case as it is not only heavy drinking that has the ability to limit a woman’s reproductive potential, as research on the link between the menstrual cycle and alcohol shows(3). While female alcoholics often experience irregular menstrual cycles and their periods might stop altogether, drinking alcohol at a level below which it would cause liver damage or have other adverse effects on your health is enough to disrupt the hormones that control female reproduction. Even for women who don’t drink daily and are just social drinkers of alcohol irregular periods and infertility is a real possibility. This relates to the fact that when your periods are irregular, there is a chance that you will not ovulate each month, so without the release of an egg it is not possible for conception to take place.


Researchers believe that alcohol exerts its effects by raising levels of estrogen and testosterone, while lowering levels of gonadotrophin-releasing hormone, all of which need to be in balance for the female reproductive cycle to take place normally. More relevant to heavy drinkers is the fact that large quantities of alcohol can reduce the absorption of B vitamins, which play an important role in maintaining the monthly cycle, and a poor diet that occurs as a consequence of alcohol addiction can also interfere with the menstrual cycle.

Alcohol and Male Fertility

It isn’t just women who need to consider their alcohol intake prior to conception, as drinking can also take its toll on a man’s sperm as well(4). While drinking just a single alcoholic beverage each day does not seem to adversely affect male fertility, and may in fact protect sperm against damage to their DNA thanks to its antioxidant content, the same cannot be said about heavy drinking. If you have two or more alcoholic drinks each day, this classes you as a heavy drinker, and this can damage your sperm’s DNA, leading to problems conceiving, and if fertilization does occur, possible birth defects.

Alcohol problems seem to affect male fertility by lowering levels of testosterone, which controls the number and health of the sperm that men produce. This means that with heavy consumption of alcohol sperm countis typically lower, reducing the chance that a sperm will meet with the egg for fertilization to occur. Similarly, with high intakes of alcohol sperm motility and their size and shape are also adversely affected, making it harder for them to reach the egg and for successful conception to take place.

Early Abuse of Alcohol and Fertility

If you are under the impression that as long as you rein in your drinking before you try to conceive that this will not cause a problem, you should think carefully before you continue to drink more than is recommended. While doctors previously thought that your earlier lifestyle choices had little impact on your chances of conception, research is emerging that shows that there is a link between early behaviors relating to alcohol and infertility.


One study that supports this association, certainly among women, investigated the relationship between alcohol dependence from a young age and the age of first childbirth(5). The researchers found that among women who were dependent on alcohol and had taken part in binge drinking in their teens and twenties they were more likely to have their children when they were older, though the same effects were not seem among men. Although the study did not explore the precise reason behind delayed reproduction in the women with a history of alcohol abuse, it is plausible that it took them longer to conceive due to the impact of alcohol on their menstrual cycle.

Regular Moderate Drinking and Fertility

If you drink within sensible limits, but you do not want to give up alcohol till you are actively trying to conceive, you may wonder about the impact of your recent intake of alcohol and trying to get pregnant. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, if you do stick to moderate drinking, you do not have to worry when it comes to your fertility(6).

When these two organizations reviewed the evidence for the impact of alcohol on conception, they only found that with heavy use of alcohol infertility was an issue. While two alcoholic drinks daily reduces the chance of pregnancy occurring, this was not the case among women who only had one drink daily. Interestingly, they found evidence that a daily drink may even increase your chances of successful conception when compared to women who drink no alcohol at all. Based on this information they strongly advise against drinking two or more alcoholic beverages daily, but conclude that there is limited evidence that recent moderate drinking impairs fertility.

Can Alcohol Affect Conception

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Although historical binge drinking and recent heavy drinking appear to adversely affect fertility, you may wonder about the link between alcohol and conception when you drink on the day of intercourse. The answer to this question very much depends on when you drink during your menstrual cycle. For fertilization to occur, the timing of when you have sex is important, as while sperm can survive for up to five days, they must be present in the female reproductive tract around the time that ovulation takes place. Anything that affects the release of an egg from a woman’s ovaries will therefore lower the chances of conception. As we have previously answered the question “Can alcohol affect ovulation?” it is possible that drinking can reduce the likelihood of pregnancy, particularly if intercourse takes place on the predicted day of ovulation and not on other days around this time. The fact that female blood alcohol content reaches higher levels close to ovulation(7), when its adverse affects are likely greater, means that withalcohol fertility around ovulation is lower than you might expect.

Drinking During IVF

There are many reasons why couples may need to seek fertility treatment, but usually before you begin medication or assisted conception techniques you will be asked to modify your lifestyle to see whether these adjustments will aid natural conception. If you still need to pursue fertility treatments despite making these changes, it is important that you continue to adopt a healthy lifestyle, which includes paying attention to your alcohol intake, as when drinking alcohol conception through assisted means is also affected.

If there are concerns that you are not ovulating, your specialist may initially prescribe the fertility drug Clomid for you before pursuing IVF. This medication stimulates your ovaries to produce and release an egg. As alcohol and Opioid Addiction can adversely affect ovulation, hindering the effectiveness of this treatment, the advice is to either cut back your alcohol intake to within recommendations or stop drinking altogether(8). Although ideally you should abstain from drinking during treatment to maximize your chances of success, if you do decide to drink you should limit yourself to at most one alcoholic beverage daily.

An alternative fertility treatment is intrauterine insemination, where sperm are placed directly into your uterus, which is an option if your partner has mild problems with his sperm. However, as we have already seen that alcohol can affect sperm size, shape and mobility, he should seriously consider looking at his drinking habits if he continues to use alcohol and consider alcohol recovery.

Meanwhile, if you need invitro fertilization, there is evidence that drinking alcohol during IVF reduces your chances of a successful outcome. Indeed, a recent study that reviewed the results of research to date on this subject found this to be the case(9). The researchers concluded that women drinking within the week and month before IVF were more likely to experience failed treatment and less likely to go on to have a successful pregnancy, and these outcomes were affected even when women were not drinking heavily. For instance, drinking just one shot of spirits, a glass of wine or 12oz of beer each day during the week prior to IVF increased the risk of failure four fold, and drinking at this level during the previous month increased the risk two fold. Women who drank at least four alcoholic beverages a week were also less likely to give birth, highlighting a higher rate of miscarriage. Finally, the research showed that a man’s alcohol intake in the previous week and month also reduced the success of IVF. The best advice is therefore for both partners to avoid alcohol in the run up to fertility treatment.

As alcohol intake has a significant impact on fertility, whether you are trying to conceive now or wish to do so in the future, if you struggle to control your alcohol intake it is important you seek help to do so without delay.

Written by Amy Linton

IVF Treatments

If fertility has become a problem for you and your partner, there are many options to explore to increase the chance that you are able to conceive. While there are many natural and holistic remedies, an IVF Treatment Procedure may be the answer to your struggles with fertility.




Ever Wondered What Your Uterus and Cervix Are Up to Each Month?

Have you ever been curious as to what is actually happening in your reproductive system each month? Check out this 4½ minute animation of the cycle:

It is a brief explanation of the complexities of what happens in your body each month. You will be amazed at how intricate it all is – what extraordinary creatures we women are!

The Billings Ovulation Method® can help you to manage your fertility safely, successfully and naturally.

It is the most thoroughly researched method of regulating fertility available today – natural or artificial! Over 850,000 individual hormone assays and 25+ years of research into the role and function of the cervix in human fertility. Plus countless cycles of clinical study of women’s charts.

If you are interested in details of that research we can supply them, but probably you just want to know that it will work for you. And the best way to find that out is to give it a go. What have you got to lose?

The quickest and most efficient way to learn is to find your own individual, confidential tutor Franchesca Duval right here at Blue Lotus Fertility!




Oxytocin – 15 Fascinating Facts About ‘The Hormone Of Love’

Mother kissing newborn

If you’ve given birth before, you’ve probably heard of oxytocin – especially if you’re a breastfeeding mother. Oxytocin is the hormone that controls uterine contractions during labour, and helps with the milk ejection in breastfeeding. But this amazing neuropeptide is involved in so much more than just those two functions.

Studies show that oxytocin is calming and can improve mood – it lowers your blood pressure and blocks stress hormones. It can help relieve inflammation and stimulate metabolic functions, like digestion and growth. It is present in females and males, and is active in social interactions. It brings about feelings of relaxation, selflessness, and love. World renown obstetrician, Michel Odent, says, “Whatever the facet of love we consider, oxytocin is involved.”

And oxytocin may be the key to adapting to motherhood. Synthetic oxytocin, however, which is often used to induce or augment labour, does not act the same way in the body as naturally occurring oxytocin. Pitocin/syntocinon does not cross the blood-brain barrier; and while it does produce the same mechanical effects on the body, it does not lead to the same behavioural effects, like maternal attachment promoting behaviours.

The amazingly versatile hormone is present throughout the body during many different activities, and it serves many functions. Here are 15 fabulous and fascinating facts about oxytocin:

Oxytocin Fact #1:
Oxytocin is released in pulses, and the more pulses the more effects seen from the hormone. Baby’s suckling triggers these pulses, which improves milk production and release.

Oxytocin Fact #2:
A surge of oxytocin is released as a baby is being born (due to stretching of receptors in the lower vagina), and baby’s oxytocin levels are high at birth, as well.

Oxytocin Fact #3:
The highest peak of oxytocin in a woman’s lifetime is right after her baby is born, but before the placenta is delivered – we can maximise the hormone’s potential by placing baby skin to skin with mum and leaving the two undisturbed during the time.

Oxytocin Fact #4:

Skin to skin contact increases oxytocin release – whether it’s mother and baby right after birth, dad massaging his infant, or mum and dad holding hands.

Oxytocin Fact #5:
Speaking of birth, an epidural can impact the effects of oxytocin by blocking the pathways it travels. Since oxytocin increases your pain threshold, the epidural may not even be needed.

Oxytocin Fact #6:
Prolactin, the milk-making hormone, is dependent on oxytocin for its production. The levels of these two hormones are strongly correlated during breastfeeding.

Oxytocin Fact #7:
Oxytocin helps mothers interact with their babies. Oxytocin levels correlate with the amount of mother baby interaction, and both benefit from its effects.

Oxytocin Fact #8:
When a baby kneads at the breast, oxytocin is released – so let your baby hug the breast during feeding rather than tucking or swaddling those hands away.

Oxytocin Fact #9:
Oxytocin release can be hindered by a stressful environment, as fight-or-flight hormones inhibit oxytocin. But if someone feels emotionally supported, calm and warm, the environment works in favour of her hormones.

Oxytocin Fact #10:
Oxytocin helps your body use nutrients through digestion, and aids in transferring those nutrients into breastmilk (and to the fetus during pregnancy).

Oxytocin Fact #11:
Oxytocin has direct effects on brain growth, especially the neocortex of the newborn.

Oxytocin Fact #12:

Oxytocin is released during orgasm (male and female). Orgasm has a host of physical and emotional health benefits, so don’t forget to give your partner the nudge now and again!

Oxytocin Fact #13:
Problems with the oxytocin system have been implicated in mental health issues, such as schizophrenia, drug dependency and suicide.

Oxytocin Fact #14:
Positive effects of oxytocin exposure last well past weaning – repeated ‘doses’ of this hormone over the months of breastfeeding can improve maternal health, though more research is needed in this area.

Oxytocin Fact #15:
Aside from its reproductive roles, oxytocin is released when sharing a meal with a friend, hugging someone you care about, and even when petting your dog. So if you’re feeling down, spend some quality time with a good girlfriend, get your hug on with those you care about and love (and ditch the quickie hug, give it longer than a few seconds, relax into it and see how different it feels!) or get connected with your partner… and we’ll leave the rest up to you!


  • Bell AF, Erickson EN, & Carter CS. (2014). Beyond labor: The role of natural and synthetic oxytocin in the transition to motherhood. J Midwifery & Women’s Health, 59(1), 35-42.
  • Carter CS. (2014). Oxytocin pathways and the evolution of human behavior. Annual review of psychology, 65, 17-39.
  • Odent M. (2001). The scientification of love. London: Free Assn Books.
  • Odent M. (2002). The first hour following birth: don’t wake the mother! Midwifery Today, (61), 9.
  • Uvnas-Moberg K. (2012). Short-term and long-term effects of oxytocin released by suckling and of skin-to-skin contact. In Mothers and Infants. Evolution, Early Experience and Human Development: From Research to Practice and Policy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 299.
  • BellyBelly.com

10 Most Important Foods For Women


What are the 10 most important foods, especially for women?

FOLIC ACID – 400 mg daily, 500 mg if you are breastfeeding, 600 mg if you are pregnant. Get it from green leafy vege, fortified fruit juice, nuts and beans.

CALCIUM – 1,000 mg/day if you are under 50, 1,200 mg if you are 50 or over = 3 servings of low-fat dairy or fortified juice.

IRON – 18 mg/day if you are under 50, 8 mg/day if 50 or over, 27 mg/day if you are pregnant. From red meat, beans, fortified cereal and spinach.

VITAMIN D – up to 70 years of age you need 600 international units per day, over 70 increase to 800 IU, from fatty fish (salmon, trout, mackeral, sardines) or fortified juice.

SODIUM – LIMIT to 1,500-2,000 mg/day (a small teaspoon) and remember, even if you don’t add salt, many processed foods and a lot of restaurant foods contain high levels of salt.

FOODS FOR HEART HEALTH – to remove ‘plaque’ from your arteries – fruit, vege, fat-free/low-fat dairy, whole grains, lean meat and poultry, fatty fish, nuts, vegetable oils.

PROTEIN – fish, poultry, red meat, eggs, nuts – 46 gms/day = 2 servings.

FIBRE – at least 25 gms/day from beans, nuts, fruit, vege, whole-grain bread.

VITAMIN C – 75-85 mg/day from broccoli, red capsicum, citrus fruit.

OMEGA 3 – FATTY ACIDS x 2 servings per day from fatty fish, flaxseed, walnuts.

Supplements are not a substitute for a healthy diet!

Drink plenty of water and get some regular exercise. If your eyes are bright and your hair is shining, chances are your fertility and general health will also be in tip-top condition!

Sourced from the Billings Institute



Setting Yourself Up For Breastfeeding Success

 Setting Yourself up for Breastfeeding Success

Breastfeeding looks like a straightforward easy experience but it can be surprisingly challenging for the first time breastfeeding mother.  Here are some resources, suggestions and tools to set yourself up for a sweet successful experience.

If you are reading this and are still pregnant try to sit topless in the sun for 10 minutes a day, exposing your nipples to direct sunlight helps gently toughen them up. Also, while showering or taking a bath you can use a washcloth and gently rub it over your nipple, don’t rub until you feel pain, rub to the point that you think “hmmm that could feel painful if I kept going” the washcloth will also get your nipples used to some extra stimulation and ease the beginning breastfeeding experience.

I recommend checking out the la leche league website on proper latch (babies connection to your breast) and feeding here. For diagrams on positioning of baby see this link.

It is important for your baby to have your breast deep inside their mouth with their lips flanged (like they are puckering up) around your nipple and some surrounding areola. If your baby is sucking on just your nipple and not the nipple and surrounding areola the latch will be painful.

It is common for first time breastfeeding mothers to experience soreness or some cracking of their nipples in the first 10 days of breastfeeding. If you see that your baby has an improper latch at your breast simply wet a clean finger with your saliva, slide it into your babies mouth alongside your breast and turn it to the side to break your babies suction so you both can try again. Calmly bring your babe back to your chest and stroke the side of their cheek or tickle their chin with your nipple to get them to open wide so you can angle your nipple towards the upper back of their palate for proper depth so there is a good latch.

In the beginning both the baby and mother are learning how to breastfeed and the mother is not used to having so much suction on her breasts. Never fear, you both will learn how feed and it will become a beautiful and enjoyable experience.

 It is well worth your time to secure a few simple items before giving birth so you are prepared for a smooth and graceful transition into first time feeding. Here are some tools to help you through the first few weeks of feeding and beyond:


 Tall Glasses of Water: Hydration is profoundly important during pregnancy, labor and breastfeeding. While feeding, your babe is not only getting food, they are getting hydration. It is important that the mamma stays juiced up so her milk supply is strong and her baby can receive what he/she needs. Drinking a tall glass of water (follow your thirst, if you are still thirsty keep drinking) just before or while feeding will help your milk flow easily and keep you from feeling parched.


Good Fats In Your Food: Nutrition is paramount while pregnant and continues to be while breastfeeding. Your child is literally being built off of your breast milk and everything that you choose to consume. Having healthy fats in your diet in the first few weeks will help your milk come in and create richer milk which helps your child’s growth and brain development. Good fats are fats that are organic, unprocessed and either from an animal or uncooked plant source. A good piece of steak  or salmon is packed with nutrients needed to sustain mamma and babe, if mamma is vegetarian then turning towards raw, organic, cold pressed coconut oil (use it like butter on toast, in oatmeal, on potatoes – pretty much anything) as well as cold pressed, organic olive oil (don’t sauté with it, pour it over your food after it is cooked for maximum health benefit. Can be added to soups, salads, rice etc.) is wonderful.  Eggs, avocados, and nut butters are also fabulous sources of healthy nourishing fats. The first few weeks after giving birth are all about maximum nourishment and rebuilding your body, not a time to worry about loosing weight. Your happy breastfeeding babe will nurse any extra fats or food you consume right off of you as they gain healthy weight.


Lanolin: Helps keep your nipples hydrated while first learning how to feed and prevents cracking and bleeding. Ideally the lanolin would be used in a situation where you are topless after feeding and alternating the breast which you are feeding from. For example, nurse your babe on your right breast until they are full then apply the lanolin to the right nipple to protect it. When your babe is hungry again they can nurse off of your left breast and after the second feeding the lanolin should be absorbed by the right nipple.  Lanolin residue is not harmful to the baby, but large amounts of it should be gently wiped off before attempting to feed – this will prevent your child from slipping all over your breast and getting an improper latch. The best quality of natural lanolin I have found can be purchased here.


Proper Pillow or Prop For Shoulder Support: The first few weeks your babe will be feeding round the clock and it is important to have proper support for your upper body while you feed. Different pillows work for different stages, I personally have had the best experience with this pillow while my daughter was small (this pillow also doubles as a great way to prop babe up when they are wanting to see what is going on in the room). Once she was three months old we switched to this Sweet Pea Pillow which doubled as a fabulous maternity pillow while I needed support when sleeping with my pregnant belly.  Having a pillow to rest your babe on takes the strain off of your body and allows you to fully relax which also helps your milk flow and the overall enjoyment of connecting to your child.

Happy Bonding and Nursing!