If you are considering getting pregnant after 35, it is vital to get in the best shape possible to reduce fertility issues and ensure a healthy pregnancy. One of the most effective ways to improve cellular health and get in the best health for reproduction is to reduce harmful substances like alcohol from your diet. Alcohol can negatively impact your well-being, both physically and mentally. Discover six ways alcohol can affect your health. Also, explore why limiting your alcohol intake and taking high-quality fertility supplements for women before trying to conceive can help you achieve pregnancy after 35.
1. Increases Your Chance of Developing Adverse Health Conditions
Drinking alcohol increases your chances of developing multiple adverse health conditions. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that excessive drinking increases your risk of developing:
- Throat, liver, colon, mouth and breast cancer
- Heart disease
- Liver disease
- High blood pressure
- Alcohol use disorder
- Immune system issues
- Digestive problems
One study showed that people who drink more than 14 grams of alcohol per day, which is equivalent to one standard U.S. alcoholic drink, increase their risk of atrial fibrillation by 10%. Another study reports that 5.8% of worldwide cancer deaths from cancers, such as colon, breast and larynx, are attributable to alcohol use.
2. Exacerbates Mental Health Issues
The link between alcohol and mental health issues is well documented. Alcohol alters chemicals in your brain and changes brain function over time, especially if you consume alcohol excessively. Drinking more than one standard alcoholic drink per day and more than eight drinks per week can cause you to experience adverse mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression and irritability. Alcohol use is also tied to an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior. Alcohol alters your brain chemistry and exacerbates existing mental conditions. It also creates social, financial and physical problems that can lead to feelings of hopelessness. Although alcohol does not cause suicide, research consistently shows a link between alcohol consumption and increased suicidal feelings.
3. Negatively Impacts Sex Hormones
Science shows that alcohol can negatively impact your hormones. Alcohol intake interferes with endocrine function, the system in your body responsible for hormone production and regulation. Your endocrine system affects your energy, metabolism and reproductive system. Alcohol adversely affects the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis (HPG), which is directly tied to reproductive health. HPG dysfunction is linked to infertility and low libido in those who abuse alcohol. Alcohol consumption also negatively affects important reproductive health hormones like progesterone, testosterone and estrogen, causing fertility issues due to amenorrhea and unpredictable ovulation cycles.
If you drink excessive amounts of alcohol before conception, you may find it difficult to become pregnant. Alcohol’s influence on your hormones can cause lower levels of energy and reduce your sex drive, making it hard to engage in sexual activity with your partner. Also, due to alcohol’s impact on your HPG, your body may struggle to ovulate, narrowing your window of opportunity for conception.
4. Adversely Impacts Fertility
Excessive alcohol consumption is associated with poor fertility outcomes. Not only does alcohol interrupt important hormonal aspects of fertility, but it can also impact your egg health and the quality of your partner’s semen. One study found that semen quality progressively deteriorates in male alcohol drinkers. As men drink higher quantities of alcohol over a longer period, the volume, survival rate and vitality of their sperm diminishes. Only 12% of participants in the study maintained normal semen markers over time, as opposed to 37% of men who did not abuse alcohol.
In women, the connection is less direct; however, one study found that women’s chances of conceiving through fertility treatments like IVF or egg freezing decreased as their alcohol consumption increased. The women who reported drinking more than seven drinks per week only maintained a 53% chance of live birth, whereas the women who reported having one to two drinks had an 83% chance of having a live birth.
5. Negates Beneficial Effects of Supplements
If you are working with a fertility specialist, they may suggest you take high-quality fertility supplements to improve your egg health. This may include an egg health-promoting DHEA supplement or a product continuing CoQ10/ubiquinol, both of which have been shown to improve fertility in women over 35. Alcohol adversely affects fertility and negatively impacts your overall well-being. While taking supplements can have a beneficial effect on your fertility, the negative effects of alcohol can outweigh their positive effects. If you are trying to get pregnant at a later age, it is better to forgo alcohol altogether and focus on getting your body in good reproductive shape for the best chance at conception.
6. Raises Your Chances for Miscarriage
If you are pregnant, alcohol use can increase your chance of miscarrying the baby. Your risk of miscarriage increases as your alcohol consumption increases and varies by the type of alcohol you drink. According to one study, women who drank four or more alcoholic drinks per week during pregnancy experienced an over 50% increase in risk of miscarriage than women who did not drink. Additionally, researchers found that women who reported drinking spirits only rather than wine or beer experienced the highest fetal loss.
A large meta-analysis supported the connection between alcohol use and miscarriage. This report found that women who consume alcohol during pregnancy experience fetal loss 1.19 times more frequently than women who do not drink. It also states that women who drink five or fewer drinks per week during pregnancy show a 6% increased risk of miscarriage for every additional drink they consume. These findings suggest that once you become pregnant, abstaining from alcohol gives you the best chances of avoiding a miscarriage and carrying a healthy baby to term.
Limit Your Alcohol Intake for Better Reproductive Health
Limiting alcohol consumption is beneficial for your health. If you are thinking of getting pregnant after 40, eliminating alcohol from your diet early on can prevent adverse effects on your fertility in the future. There are no significant benefits to drinking alcohol, even in moderation. If you are thinking of starting a family later in life, your best option is to reduce or eliminate alcohol from your diet.