High alcohol drinking is related to decreased fertility in women

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High alcohol drinking

Drinking too much alcohol can have harmful effects on health. In a recent study, researchers find that drinking alcohol more than 14 servings per week is associated with decreased fertility in women. The finding is published in BMJ.

Researchers from Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, Boston University School of Public Health, and Research Triangle Park conducted the study.

They conducted a study in Denmark from 1 June 2007 to 5 January 2016. A total of 6,120 female Danish residents were recruited. The participants were aged 21-45 years, in a stable relationship with a male partner, and were trying to conceive and not receiving fertility treatment.

Participants self-reported their alcohol drinking, including beer (330 mL bottles), red or white wine (120 mL glasses), dessert wine (50 mL glasses), and spirits (20 mL). Their drinking amount was categorized in standard servings per week (none, 1-3, 4-7, 8-13, and ≥14).

In addition, participants reported their menstrual cycles until pregnancy, start of fertility treatment, loss to follow-up, or end of observation (maximum 12 menstrual cycles).

Researchers found that 4,210 (69%) participants achieved a pregnancy during the follow-up. In women who did not drink alcohol, 17% were pregnant during the study. In women who drank alcohol > 14 servings/week, only 12% were pregnant.

Researchers suggest that this is an observational study, and hence no conclusions can be made about the causal effect of alcohol drinking on fertility.

In addition, the study did not distinguish binge drinking and regular drinking. Binge drinking may disrupt menstrual cycles and harm the baby during pregnancy. Therefore, researchers suggest that women should avoid binge drinking for their health.

Furthermore, the male partner’s alcohol drinking behavior should also be taken into account. High drinking may affect sperm quality. Researchers suggest that if a couple have conceiving problems, they might want to both cut down their alcohol drinking.

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Citation: Mikkelsen EM, et al. (2016). Alcohol consumption and fecundability: prospective Danish cohort study. BMJ, 354. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.i4262.
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