Alcohol consumption and fecundability: prospective Danish cohort study

Objective To investigate to what extent alcohol consumption affects female fecundability.

Design Prospective cohort study.

Setting Denmark, 1 June 2007 to 5 January 2016.

Participants 6120 female Danish residents, aged 21-45 years, in a stable relationship with a male partner, who were trying to conceive and not receiving fertility treatment.

Main outcome measures Alcohol consumption was self reported as beer (330 mL bottles), red or white wine (120 mL glasses), dessert wine (50 mL glasses), and spirits (20 mL) and categorized in standard servings per week (none, 1-3, 4-7, 8-13, and ≥14). Participants contributed menstrual cycles at risk until the report of pregnancy, start of fertility treatment, loss to follow-up, or end of observation (maximum 12 menstrual cycles). A proportional probability regression model was used to estimate fecundability ratios (cycle specific probability of conception among exposed women divided by that among unexposed women).

Results 4210 (69%) participants achieved a pregnancy during follow-up. Median alcohol intake was 2.0 (interquartile range 0-3.5) servings per week. Compared with no alcohol consumption, the adjusted fecundability ratios for alcohol consumption of 1-3, 4-7, 8-13, and 14 or more servings per week were 0.97 (95% confidence interval 0.91 to 1.03), 1.01 (0.93 to 1.10), 1.01 (0.87 to 1.16) and 0.82 (0.60 to 1.12), respectively. Compared with no alcohol intake, the adjusted fecundability ratios for women who consumed only wine (≥3 servings), beer (≥3 servings), or spirits (≥2 servings) were 1.05 (0.91 to1.21), 0.92 (0.65 to 1.29), and 0.85 (0.61 to 1.17), respectively. The data did not distinguish between regular and binge drinking, which may be important if large amounts of alcohol are consumed during the fertile window.

Conclusion Consumption of less than 14 servings of alcohol per week seemed to have no discernible effect on fertility. No appreciable difference in fecundability was observed by level of consumption of beer and wine.

BMJ 2016;354:i4262

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