• Good news for women: 2 drinks a day will not harm chances of conception

    For women who enjoy a post-work drink, here’s some good news. New research by Denmark’s Aarhus University shows that drinking moderately does not affect a woman’s chances to get pregnant.

    On an average, the women had about two drinks a week, but even women who had 14 drinks a week conceived without trouble.

    According to the study which was published in the British Medical Journal, two small drinks a day will not reduce fertility, and even if a woman drinks more than that, it would not significantly affect her chances of conceiving a baby.

    The study aimed to learn the effects of alcohol consumption on conception, and included 6,120 Danish women between the ages of 21 and 45, who were in a stable relationship with a male partner and who were trying to conceive, reports the news agency ‘UPI’.

    The women had to report their weekly alcohol consumption and timing of menstrual cycles until they got pregnant. On an average, the women had about two drinks a week, but even women who had 14 drinks a week conceived without trouble. By the end of the study, 69 per cent of the women were pregnant.

    Compared with women who did not drink at all, the women who drank more than 14 glasses of any sort of alcohol saw an 18 per cent decrease in their chance for pregnancy, a figure that the researchers believe is insignificant.

    “A foetus can be vulnerable to the effects of alcohol in the first few weeks after conception, so during the days from ovulation until the chance of pregnancy is precluded, it is smart to hold back,” said Ellen Mikkelsen, a researcher at Aarhus’s department of clinical epidemiology and lead author of the study. “On the other hand, the study shows that giving up alcohol is an unnecessary limitation to impose on yourself.”

    Two facts must be taken into account though, added Mikkelsen. The women who were studied self-reported their consumption of alcohol, so their figures might have been inaccurate, and the study did not distinguish between regular drinking and binge drinking.

    “For women trying to conceive, improving their physical health makes sense, and this may include a reduction in alcohol intake,” said Dr Annie Britton, a researcher at University College London, in an editorial that was published with the study in The BMJ. “However, the latest evidence from this Danish study is that total abstinence may not be necessary to maximize 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.”

    In fact, according to a 2003 study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, binge drinking or any kind of intoxication can increase the chances of unintended pregnancy. However, the study focused less on the effects of alcohol on pregnancy than on the effects of risky behaviour.

    Feature image credit: thefrisky.com