beersWhile most women are aware of the immediate need to quit smoking and/or drinking alcohol upon becoming pregnant, not all are conscious of the fact that smoking and drinking may be harming their fertility prior to pregnancy. Believe it or not, the same can be true for males as well.

Many couples may be unaware of just how much excessive alcohol consumption and smoking cigarettes can damage fertility and delay conception. These factors can affect men and women in different ways. Couples looking to start or grow their families should consider the following risks associated with smoking and drinking:

Women

It is important to note that for women, there’s no known safe amount of alcohol use during pregnancy or while trying to get pregnant. Additionally, it may be more difficult for women who smoke to become pregnant, while smoking also has the potential to harm the baby’s health before and after birth. According to the CDC, smoking increases the risk of:

  • Preterm (early) delivery
  • Stillbirth (death of the baby before birth)
  • Low birth weight
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (known as SIDS or crib death)
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Orofacial clefts in infants

Men

Studies have found that men who drink heavily on a regular basis have lower sperm counts and testosterone levels. And when testosterone levels are low, sperm quality and production are decreased, making it extremely difficult to achieve pregnancy. According to the ART Fertility Program of Alabama’s physicians, moderate alcohol consumption is no more than 2 drinks per day for men. A “drink” is considered 12 oz of beer (in most cases this is 1 bottle/can), 4 oz of wine, or 1.5 oz of hard liquor. When it comes to men, smoking can damage fertility by:

  • Lowering sperm counts
  • Sperm motility problems
  • Increase the risks for birth defects
  • Increase risk of miscarriage
  • Erectile dysfunction

Ultimately, focusing on living a healthy lifestyle by eating right and exercising regularly is going to better your chances of making your little bundle of joy! By limiting your alcohol intake and quitting smoking, you can improve your chances of fertility. Quitting a smoking addiction may not be easy, but it’ll be worth it, and for those looking to quit, Smokefree.gov can be a great resource.


The ART Fertility Program of Alabama is located in Birmingham, Alabama with additional locations in Huntsville, Montgomery and Tuscaloosa. The program is led by Dr. Kathryn Honea, Dr. Virginia Houserman and Dr. Chris Allemand who are Board Certified specialists in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. All are skilled in comprehensive infertility care and offer a complete range of infertility services.

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