Drinking over a lifespan

Starting a family

If you are starting a family, speak with your healthcare professional about your specific situation and drinking.

Conception.  Prolonged heavy drinking by men can be associated with sexual performance issues and reduced sperm count. For women, alcohol abuse has been linked with infertility.

Pregnancy. Research studies have not established a “safe” amount of alcohol during pregnancy. Avoiding alcohol completely during pregnancy is always the safest choice. You should discuss any drinking of alcohol beverages during pregnancy with your healthcare provider.

Drinking during pregnancy increases the risk of a child being born with some degree of physical, mental and behavioral problems. Heavy and prolonged drinking is associated a range of conditions called Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD), of which the most severe disorder is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). Heavy drinking while pregnant also is associated with increased risk of miscarriage.

Breastfeeding. Women choosing to breastfeed their babies should pay close attention to their alcohol consumption. If you drink just before or while breastfeeding, you will pass the alcohol along to your baby. You should talk with your health provider to learn more and decide what is right for you. For more information visit IARD guidelines around pregnancy and breastfeeding.