Drinking over a lifespan

Starting a family

Conception. If you are starting a family, speak with your healthcare provider about your specific situation to identify what is right for you. Prolonged heavy drinking by men is associated with sexual performance issues and reduced sperm count. For women there seems to be an association between alcohol abuse and infertility, although exactly how alcohol makes women less fertile isn’t clearly understood.

Pregnancy. Research studies have not established a safe amount of alcohol to drink during pregnancy or even among women who may become pregnant. Avoiding alcohol completely during pregnancy is always the safest choice. You should certainly 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, a range of conditions called Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Heavy and prolonged drinking is associated with the most severe disorder in this range, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). Drinking heavily while pregnant is also 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.