Could Your Nightly Wine Habit Affect Your Fertility?

The amount of alcohol you consume might be messing with your fertility, according to a new study.

You have a pretty good idea of what a few drinks can do to your waistline, your next-day productivity and your bank account. And you no doubt know that drinking during pregnancy is a no-no. But do you really understand how alcohol consumption could affect your fertility?

According to a new study published in BMJ, there may be a relationship—and it's more complicated than you might guess.

Here's what the study suggests: Women who have 14 or more servings of alcohol a week have a slightly higher chance of having reduced fertility. Sounds pretty alarming, right? But before you vow to completely abstain from your favorite libation, consider this: The study did not find a link between moderate alcohol consumption and decreased fertility. ("Moderate" drinking is defined as one to seven servings a week, FYI.)

Researchers from Denmark came to this finding after studying more than 6,000 Danish women aged 21 to 45. All of the women were in stable heterosexual partnerships and were trying to conceive without the help of fertility treatments between 2007 and 2015. Subjects reported their drinking habits, information about frequency of intercourse, whether or not they smoked, pregnancy statuses, and menstrual cycles. 

The results showed a link: Researchers saw 37 pregnancies in 307 cycles among the women who consumed 14 or more drinks a week. The women who did not drink had 1,381 pregnancies in 8054 cycles. Cycles were defined as the number of days the women tried to conceive divided by estimated days in their menstrual cycles.

But this research doesn't necessarily prove anything, as it was an observational study. Additionally, researchers admit that just 1.2 percent of the women studied drank over 14 servings of alcohol a week. With that being said, alcohol has been linked to a decrease in sperm it might not be a bad idea for you and your partner to keep consumption in check.

Annie Britton, PhD, a reader from the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, weighed in on the study's findings in a linked editorial. "For women trying to conceive, improving their physical health makes sense, and this may include a reduction in alcohol intake. However, the latest evidence from this Danish study is that total abstinence may not be necessary to maximise conception rates. The decision whether to consume alcohol is a woman’s individual choice and one that may involve weighing up the possible harm and associated guilt of drinking during (unknown) early pregnancy," Dr. Britton wrote. "If alcohol is consumed moderately, it seems that this may not affect fertility. However, it would be wise to avoid binge drinking, both for the potential disruption to menstrual cycles and also for the potential harm to a baby during early pregnancy."

Our thoughts? If you're not pregnant (or trying to get pregnant), enjoy a cocktail or two without worrying too much about it'll do to your fertility. After all, women who drink moderately get pregnant every single day. With that being said, if you're actively trying, it's definitely smart to be as careful as possible to avoid drinking.