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Home > Learn > Fertility Treatments > >Can You Drink Alcohol During IVF?

Can You Drink Alcohol During IVF?

Apr 11, 23 9 min

If you’re undergoing in-vitro fertilization (IVF), you may be prepared to change some habits in order to increase your chances of success. But what about drinking? Can you have a glass of wine or pint of beer? This is one of the most common questions asked by fertility patients. In this guide, we’ll look into some of the data on drinking during IVF to help you make the right decision.

By Halle Tecco, MPH, MBA

Does alcohol affect IVF success?

Yes, it does appear that alcohol can decrease the chances of success with IVF. One study of 221 couples with female infertility found that alcohol consumption was associated with a 13% decrease in the number of eggs retrieved. [1] With fewer eggs retrieved, the chances of a live birth decrease as well. 

Another study of 2,545 couples undergoing IVF found that women drinking four drinks or more per week before their first IVF cycle had 16% less odds of a live birth rate. [2] 

And a more recent meta-analysis found that the chance of an IVF pregnancy decreased by 7% for women who consumed 84 grams alcohol per week (or about one drink per day). However, the live birth rate was unchanged. [3]

IVF is expensive, and you don’t want to undergo more rounds, or wait longer, than necessary. [4] These are pretty compelling studies that suggest cutting back — to a completely dry IVF — will give you the best chance.

What about my husband — can he drink during IVF?

The role of the male is often one of the easiest and least invasive parts of IVF (but not always!), but that doesn’t mean sperm isn’t a super critical part of IVF. Research has shown a direct correlation between male infertility and lifestyle factors such as alcohol consumption. [5]

Alcohol can interfere with the male reproductive system and have an effect on fertility. [5] Drinking excessively may lower testosterone levels, cause erectile dysfunction, and decrease sperm production. [5] In fact, studies have found that a male’s alcohol assumption, when greater than 84 g per week during IVF treatment, was associated with a decreased chance of live birth. [6]

So it’s not just in solidarity — men should hold back on the booze to improve chances of success. And it’s not just drinking. If he’s a smoker, it’s time to quit smoking too. [7]

Can I have just one glass of alcohol during IVF?

The answer depends on several factors and should ultimately be discussed with your healthcare provider before making any decisions about drinking during IVF treatment. Generally speaking, however, experts recommend avoiding alcohol completely during the entire process from start to finish, as even moderate amounts of drinking could have a negative impact on IVF outcomes. [6]

 

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Can you drink alcohol while taking letrozole or ClomidⓇ for fertility?

If you are taking fertility medications like letrozole or ClomidⓇ in attempts to get pregnant, it’s in your best interest to make healthy lifestyle choices. Not only will this increase your chances of getting pregnant, but it will help prepare you for a healthy pregnancy. [8]

Because these are prescription medications, it’s important to check with your provider or pharmacist about any potential interactions between alcohol and the specific type of fertility treatment medication you are on. Depending on the type of drugs prescribed, alcohol may interfere with how well these medications work in helping you conceive. 

The American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology (ACOG) recommends women who are trying to conceive abstain from drinking, so you may want to stick with EANABs (Equally Attractive Non-Alcoholic Beverages). [9]

Will alcohol make it take longer to get pregnant? 

The type of alcohol you drink, or if you drink it at all, seems to play a role in spontaneous conception as well (spontaneous conception just means getting pregnant “the old fashioned way,” without medical assistance).

One study found that wine drinkers get pregnant faster than non-drinkers, beer drinkers have no change in time to pregnancy, and people who have a high intake of spirits take longer to get pregnant. [10] While the results were statistically significant, it’s unclear if this is an effect of the wine itself or some other shared characteristic of wine drinkers.

What are guidelines for drinking while pregnant?

The US Surgeon General along with ACOG advises that pregnant women completely abstain from alcohol during pregnancy. [11] This recommendation has remained solid despite a widely-publicized study that reported one drink per day did not increase the risk of preterm delivery or low birth-weight infants. [12] Unfortunately, this study failed to assess the more common effects alcohol has on the fetus including neurologic, cognitive, and behavioral patterns, or Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. 

What else should I avoid?

Beyond alcohol, it's important to note that certain foods and drinks can have a negative effect on fertility. Caffeine consumption, for example, is often discussed in fertility and pregnancy as the vast majority of Americans depend on their coffee each morning! 

While no clear association has been found between caffeine consumption and fertility treatment outcomes, ACOG reviewed all the literature on the topic and came to the conclusion that moderate caffeine consumption doesn’t seem to be a contributing factor in terms of miscarriage or preterm labor. [13] Although, the effect of caffeine at doses higher than 200 mg daily is still undetermined, and therefore can’t be recommended. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a daily caffeine intake below 300 mg daily for women trying to conceive and during pregnancy to decrease the risk of pregnancy loss and low birth weight babies. [14] That’s equivalent to three 6-ounce cups of coffee, four cups of regular tea, or six 12-ounce sodas. So, if you’re drinking more than this each day, it might be worth reducing your intake or trying options like caffeine-free tea.  

So what can I drink?

The good news is, the demand for good non-alcoholic drinks is soaring, and the options are growing. There are plenty of delicious mocktail options out there that you can reach for at dinner or an event:

  • A non-alcoholic Moscow Mule made with ginger beer, club soda, lime, and mint leaves is a fun and delicious drink, and the ginger is known to help with digestion and nausea (read more about nausea and fertility treatments). [15]
  • A mocktail made with real citrus is packed with vitamin C, which assists in iron absorption.
  • A club soda and lime is simple and refreshing. You can’t go wrong.
  • A tomato juice with a splash of lemon (and a dash of hot sauce if that’s your thing) is rich in nutrients like vitamin C, B vitamins, and potassium. Since tomato juice is the base of a Bloody Mary, most bars carry it.
  • Herbal teas are always a great option. They come in various flavors ranging from traditional chamomile tea to exotic hibiscus blends. 
  • Coconut water is an excellent choice for hydration and electrolyte replenishment. It contains essential minerals like potassium, chloride, sodium, and as well as natural sugars. [16]
  • Non-alcoholic wine is an option too. One study of men found that non-alcoholic wine lowered heart disease risk by 14% and the risk of stroke by 20%.  [17]

The bottom line

If you are trying to conceive — whether through timed intercourse, medications, or fertility treatments like IVF — we recommend consulting closely with your healthcare provider with lifestyle questions including how much, if any, alcohol you can safely drink. 

IVF is expensive, and you don’t want to undergo more rounds, or wait longer, than necessary. [4] Ultimately, there are pretty compelling studies suggesting living your healthiest life and cutting back (or abstaining) from all forms of alcoholic beverages will give you the best chance. And we’re here for that! 



References:

  1. Klonoff-Cohen H, Lam-Kruglick P, Gonzalez C. Effects of maternal and paternal alcohol consumption on the success rates of in vitro fertilization and gamete intrafallopian transfer. Fertil Steril. 2003;79(2):330-339. doi:10.1016/s0015-0282(02)04582-x
  2. Rossi BV, Berry KF, Hornstein MD, Cramer DW, Ehrlich S, Missmer SA. Effect of alcohol consumption on in vitro fertilization. Obstet Gynecol. 2011;117(1):136-142. doi:10.1097/AOG.0b013e31820090e1
  3. Rao W, Li Y, Li N, Yao Q, Li Y. The association between caffeine and alcohol consumption and IVF/ICSI outcomes: A systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2022;101(12):1351-1363. doi:10.1111/aogs.14464
  4. Lake R, Velasquez V. How Much Does IVF Cost? Investopedia. September 2022. URL
  5. Finelli R, Mottola F, Agarwal A. Impact of Alcohol Consumption on Male Fertility Potential: A Narrative Review. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021;19(1):328. Published 2021 Dec 29. doi:10.3390/ijerph19010328
  6. Rao W, Li Y, Li N, Yao Q, Li Y. The association between caffeine and alcohol consumption and IVF/ICSI outcomes: A systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2022;101(12):1351-1363. doi:10.1111/aogs.14464
  7. Sharma R, Harlev A, Agarwal A, Esteves SC. Cigarette Smoking and Semen Quality: A New Meta-analysis Examining the Effect of the 2010 World Health Organization Laboratory Methods for the Examination of Human Semen. Eur Urol. 2016;70(4):635-645. doi:10.1016/j.eururo.2016.04.010
  8. Mínguez-Alarcón L, Chavarro JE, Gaskins AJ. Caffeine, alcohol, smoking, and reproductive outcomes among couples undergoing assisted reproductive technology treatments. Fertil Steril. 2018;110(4):587-592. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2018.05.026
  9. Alcohol and Pregnancy. American College of Gynecology and Obstetrics. Last reviewed Feb 2023. URL
  10. Juhl M, Olsen J, Andersen AM, Grønbaek M. Intake of wine, beer and spirits and waiting time to pregnancy. Hum Reprod. 2003;18(9):1967-1971. doi:10.1093/humrep/deg376
  11. U.S. Surgeon General Releases Advisory on Alcohol Use in Pregnancy. Feb 2005. URL.
  12. Lundsberg LS, Illuzzi JL, Belanger K, Triche EW, Bracken MB. Low-to-moderate prenatal alcohol consumption and the risk of selected birth outcomes: a prospective cohort study. Ann Epidemiol. 2015;25(1):46-54.e3. doi:10.1016/j.annepidem.2014.10.011 
  13. Moderate caffeine consumption during pregnancy. Committee Opinion No. 462. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Obstet Gynecol 2010;116:467–8.
  14. WHO recommendations on antenatal care for a positive pregnancy experience. World Health Organization. ISBN 978 92 4 154991 2
  15. Hu Y, Amoah AN, Zhang H, et al. Effect of ginger in the treatment of nausea and vomiting compared with vitamin B6 and placebo during pregnancy: a meta-analysis. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2022;35(1):187-196. doi:10.1080/14767058.2020.1712714
  16. Kalman DS, Feldman S, Krieger DR, Bloomer RJ. Comparison of coconut water and a carbohydrate-electrolyte sport drink on measures of hydration and physical performance in exercise-trained men. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2012;9(1):1. Published 2012 Jan 18. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-9-1
  17. Chiva-Blanch G, Urpi-Sarda M, Ros E, et al. Dealcoholized red wine decreases systolic and diastolic blood pressure and increases plasma nitric oxide: short communication. Circ Res. 2012;111(8):1065-1068. doi:10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.112.275636

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