YOU can’t say cheers to this. More studies and research are now finding that habitual drinking and smoking are linked to the problem of infertility. Says Dr Hrishikesh Pai, fertility expert, Fortis La Femme, New Delhi and Lilavati Hospital, Mumbai: “Most couples who take alcohol regularly reduce the chances of fertility by half and there are less chances of conceiving.” In fact, studies have shown that women who drink less than 5 units of alcohol a week (equal to five glasses of wine) are twice as likely to get pregnant within six months, compared to those who drink more.
Doctors say that drinking alcohol causes a decrease in sperm count, an increase in abnormal sperm and a lower proportion of motile sperm. Alcohol inhibits the body’s absorption of nutrients such as zinc, which is one of the most important minerals for male fertility. Further, excess alcohol intake can be detrimental to semen quality.
“Drinking alcohol increases the risk for a miscarriage, pre-term birth, stillbirth, and other serious effects. So, one should eliminate alcohol from their diet for at least three months in order to yield the best possible chance of conceiving,” adds Dr Pai.
Yet another hazard that triggers infertility is smoking. Smoking has definitely been linked with infertility in women Says Dr Jyoti Sharma, gynaecologist, Umkal Healthcare, Gurgaon: ”Smoking and drinking do affect fertility as they can lead to delayed ovulation or no ovulation at all. This is because of the change in the composition of hormones, which in turn can cause infertility.” Besides these problems, they can also cause irregularities in menstrual cycle, miscarriage, pre-term labour, retarded growth of the foetus and mental retardation in the newly born child,” she adds.
Dr Shivani Sachdev Gour, gynaecologist, SCI Healthcare, explains that “smoking and drinking by men can lead to retardation in spermatogenesis the process of production of sperms. In women, smoking and drinking can harm potential pregnancy and a consensus has been formed in the medical fraternity to give up these habits for the normal growth of the unborn child.”
Smoking can further decrease sperm count in men, making the sperm more sluggish, and it can increase the number of abnormal sperm. With men, the effects on fertility are increased with the number of cigarettes. Those who smoke heavily or drink too much may have lower sperm mortality and a higher proportion of abnormal sperm.
As a way out, say doctors, it is advisable to give up drinking and smoking if you are planning to start a family. And should that be a problem in the short term, it is always suggested to cut down on the vices as much as possible, they feel.