Most people are aware these days that if you are pregnant drinking alcohol and smoking can be harmful to your unborn child.  But are you aware that smoking and drinking alcohol could actually be stopping you conceiving as it reduces your fertility.    On a positive note the negative effects are not permanent and so simply stopping will dramatically improve your chances.
Research has shown that drinking alcohol causes a decrease in sperm count and an increase in abnormal sperm.
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Alcohol can also affect a man’s fertility by changing his hormone levels as it changes the way testosterone is produced and then released. As you know alcohol affects the liver and a man who drinks alcohol may accumulate small amounts of female hormones in the same way women produce testosterone.  These female hormones can lower the sperm potency and production.
Alcohol can also stop the absorption of nutrients such as zinc, which is one of the most important minerals for male fertility.  There needs to be adequate zinc levels to ensure that sperm is healthy, as zinc helps form the outer layer and the tail of the sperm.  If a man’s zinc levels are reduced, his sperm count will reduce.
If women drink alcohol heavily they may stop ovulating and menstruating, and this can contribute to a couple taking longer to conceive.
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Studies have shown that women who drink more than 5 units of alcohol (which is equal to five glasses of wine) a week, it could stop women conceiving.  Studies show that women who drank less than these 5 units a week were twice as likely to get pregnant within six to eight months compared to those that drank 5 units or more.
The truth is that drinking any alcohol can reduce a couples fertility by half and the more they drink their chances of conceiving are reduced.
Studies have also shown that drinking alcohol can be one of the reasons why women miscarry.  Women who drink every day are more likely to miscarry than non-drinkers.  Women who drink and smoke are four times more likely to have a miscarriage.  Obviously, drinking and smoking are not the only reasons why women miscarry.
A man’s fertility is also affected by smoking as it decreases the sperm count, makes the sperm much more sluggish and can also reduce his testosterone levels and increase the number of abnormal sperm present.
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Smoking also reduces the level of Vitamin C in the body.  Lack of vitamin C does not only reduce the immune system but also causes the sperm to clump together stopping it moving forward to fertilise an egg.
Therefore it is important when you decide to try to conceive that you reduce or stop drinking alcohol and give up smoking where possible.  If you need help and support to to do this please do not hesitate to contact me for an appointment today.