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Is it OK to Drink While Trying to Conceive?

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Drinking during pregnancy or while trying to conceive is a tricky topic. Not all doctors agree on the effects of alcohol during this time. Clearly, we aren’t talking about binge drinking – any amount of excessive drinking is just plain bad for you, no matter your state of motherhood. However, things get a bit murkier when you’re talking about a glass of wine or a beer on occasion. Some people will say go for it, others would rather not see it happen.

Learn When It’s Safe

For some people, drinking is cultural. Wine drinking is a large part of the culture in France, for example. Many people there continue to drink the occasional glass of wine throughout pregnancy. We haven’t seen a huge health impact from that practice, but again – it’s cultural.
The thinking behind the idea that it’s OK to have a few glasses of wine a week while pregnant or trying isn’t based in science.

Typically, it’s considered safe to drink moderately during the first half of your cycle – before ovulation if you have a regular cycle. This is because you can’t get pregnant during that time, and it pretty much means that you can drink for half a month, every month. But this is only true if you have a completely normal cycle, which is rarer than you might think. Women without regular cycles may have a more difficult time finding their “safe” time to drink.

There are some doctors who will tell you that a drink here and there is no big deal, and for many moms or moms-to-be, they’re right. A glass here or there is not likely to impact on your baby, especially if there isn’t a bun in the oven yet, so to speak. The problem is that this doesn’t hold true for 100% of people.

Recognize the Dangers

We’re all aware of the dangers of drinking while actually pregnant. But if you’re trying to conceive, you still take some risks if you decide to drink.

One thing to consider is that you won’t know when you actually become pregnant, so you’re likely to accidentally have a few drinks during your first trimester. This accidental drinking is an enormous factor because it can lead to long-term problems such as fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) or miscarriage – depending on frequency, amount and prior habits.

Studies found that the rate of miscarriage increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. In one particular study, women who had four or more drinks each week were more likely to experience a miscarriage.

In addition to accidentally drinking too much before you realize you’re pregnant, there’s the added problem of trying to abruptly change your habits. Tapering off ahead of time can make the transition to complete sobriety easier.

What About the Mister?

Yes, it’s safer for the woman to avoid alcohol during conception, but men should as well, since alcohol also affects sperm. It can cause lower quality sperm and lower testosterone, but did you know it actually makes sperm intoxicated? They don’t swim as well and may have trouble reaching the egg. This means that drinking will actually make it more difficult for you to get pregnant in the first place.

Play It Safe

If you’re thinking about having a child, it’s best to avoid drinking. Doctors are still unsure as to what constitutes a safe level of fetal exposure to alcohol, and until that level is established (assuming there is one), it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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