Some of you may be thinking, why do I need to think about babies now?
But recent evidence shows that drinking alcohol before getting pregnant for both women and men is associated with a higher risk of heart defects for babies, with binge drinking or drinking lots of alcohol having the biggest impact.
The stats say that one in seven couples in the UK are affected by fertility issues and struggle to get pregnant without additional medical help. Women may have problems with ovulation and issues with your periods and men with their sperm quality. Both of these can be affected when drinking alcohol.
Can I drink alcohol if trying to get pregnant?
For women trying to get pregnant, it’s safest not to drink alcohol at all. If women stop drinking before wanting to get pregnant and men either cut down on how much alcohol they have or stop altogether, you will be giving your bodies the best chance of success for getting pregnant and will keep health risks to the baby as low as possible.
At any stage of pregnancy, a women drinking a lot of alcohol, or drinking alcohol regularly can lead to long-term health problems for your baby, for example Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. You can find out more here if you want to: https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/facts/health-effects-of-alcohol/alcohol-fertility-and-pregnancy/fetal-alcohol-spectrum-disorder-fasd
It can also mean your baby has a greater chance that they might have health issues including:
- having a low birth weight
- being born too early (premature)
- being stillborn
Drinking to access can also increase the risk of miscarriage.
A female’s health before and during a pregnancy is a big deal. Not only does it have a big role in deciding the health of your future child, but it also puts a huge strain on a female’s body. Being as healthy as possible during a pregnancy and before can help reduce future complications for Mum and Baby.
The odd drink for a special occasion is unlikely to cause any issues in the run up to pregnancy. And don’t worry if you find out you’re pregnant but were previously drinking regularly. Go and see your midwife of GP about any concerns and they will support you with this. The main thing is to avoid alcohol once you know you’re pregnant.
How can alcohol affect my sex life?
Drinking a lot of alcohol can also have effects on your sex life whether you’re trying for a baby or not! Drinking lots can harm a male’s performance- it depresses the central nervous system which can make it difficult for some men to get, and keep, an erection.
Heavy drinking regularly can harm the liver which contributes to low levels of oestrogen and also testosterone. This can lead to erectile dysfunction. Find out more here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/erection-problems-erectile-dysfunction/
Having erectile dysfunction sometimes is normal and not a concern- it can happens if you are drinking lots or even really stressed for example. But if it happens regularly, it may be a sign of an underlying health condition so best to reach out to your GP.
It also alters the chemicals in our brains meaning that people act in an uninhibited way when they have been drinking. Unprotected sex is far more common when alcohol is involved, leading to sexually transmitted diseases (which you definitely don’t want!) and unplanned pregnancy.