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Several studies have linked alcohol and infertility. Although the exact amount of alcohol consumption associated with infertility in uncertain, it is true that heavy drinking can lead to impotency, decreased libido, and reduced sperm count in men. High alcohol consumption by females can lead to menstrual irregularities, altered blood levels of estrogen and progesterone, and in pregnant women, may have deleterious effects on the unborn child including stillbirth. Therefore, our habits are an important factor for both male and female fertility.
What do studies show?
The following are some studies that have been performed to demonstrate the effect of alcohol on male and female fertility.
The T-ACE questionnaire
It is important that all patients be screened for alcohol consumption during their first prenatal visit. Although the goal of infertility treatment is pregnancy, the use of a screening method to identify the risk is practical. The T-ACE questionnaire is a four-item survey including the following questions:
In a study, 350 women were surveyed by the T-ACE questionnaire. The questionnaire was able to screen women who had more than two drinks per day before and while they were pregnant. The T-ACE questionnaire has been validated to work well in socially and ethnically diverse women and is superior to the SMAST and AUDIT questionnaires.
In conclusion, while there is a controversial link between the amount of alcohol and infertility, studies conclusively show that couples trying to conceive should be screened for alcohol consumption. Infertile couples that seek medical interventions should be asked to modify their alcohol consumption and lifestyle factors to increase their probability of conceiving.
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