Sunday, October 25, 2009

Alcohol and In Vitro Fertilization

Do drinking women face tougher odds?

Everybody knows by now that it’s not safe to drink while pregnant. However, a new study of more than 2,500 couples enrolled in a course of in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment at a fertility clinic found that women who drank more than a single drink per day significantly reduced their likelihood of pregnancy, according to a report by doctors at the Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Now, it may not even be a good idea for women to drink while trying to get pregnant. And that includes you men out there as well.

Dr. Brooke Rossi presented the findings last week to a meeting of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine. In the study cohort, half the women and a third of the men had less than one drink per week, while about 5% of men and women had at least one drink per day. According to Dr. Rossi, women were 18% less likely to have a successful IVF baby if they drank at the higher level. Men who had more than six drinks per week reduced the rate of successful in-vitro fertilization by 14 %.

The average age of women taking part in the study was 34, and for men, the average age was 37. Tony Rutherford, chairman of the British Fertility Society, told the UK Guardian that “this is further evidence to suggest that alcohol does have an impact.” Rutherford agreed with the study authors at Harvard that women who wish to become pregnant should stop drinking.

In 1998, the British Medical Journal published a Danish study of more than 400 couples that concluded: “A woman's alcohol intake is associated with decreased fecundability even among women with a weekly alcohol intake corresponding to five or fewer drinks.” The authors conceded, however, that other studies have found little evidence of an alcohol effect on conception rates.

“It may well be that couples who are already subfertile are more affected by alcohol than those who are perfectly fertile,” Rutherford speculated. “Eggs and sperm take at least three months to develop so women have got to stop smoking, reduce alcohol consumption, or, if you are overweight, correct that weight, that far ahead if you want to maximize your chances of conception.”

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Guzzo said...

Now, it may not even be a good idea for women to drink while trying to get pregnant.

The ironic part of this study is that most pregnancies probably occur because of drinking.

Frugal Dougal said...

Well said, Guzzo!

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