A principle that health care professionals can agree upon – and one that is supported by common sense – is that a couple should make healthy choices while they are trying to conceive. Exercise, a healthy diet and avoiding potentially harmful substances like drugs and alcohol are all wise choices to create the healthiest possible environment for a baby. But specific recommendations vary, and studies differ about the hazards of some practices while trying to conceive. Drinking and smoking are two of the most common questions couples face, and we want to help you make the best choice for your situation.
Trying to conceive & smoking
When it comes to trying to conceive, smoking is one of the first and most obvious questionable habits. Multiple studies confirm that women who smoke decrease their chances of getting pregnant and create risks for the baby when conception does occur. Specifically, research has proven that women who smoke 10 or more cigarettes a day experience a marked decrease in fertility, but experts believe that those who smoke fewer cigarettes can also hurt their chances while trying to conceive. Smoking is believed to lead to problems with a woman’s fallopian tubes, cervical changes, damage to a woman’s eggs and increased risk of miscarriage.
It’s Not Just the Woman Who Should Quit
According to the website UpToDate, approximately 23 percent of women over the age of 18 smoke cigarettes, but the women themselves aren’t the only ones at risk. Secondhand smokecan be just as detrimental to fertility as the smoke from the person who actually smokes; men who smoke have been found to harm their own fertility, leading to lower sperm count and motility, hormonal issues and erectile dysfunction. For couples who are serious about trying to conceive, smoking should be stopped. Both parties should come up with a plan to quit, and if they both smoke they can support and encourage each other, reminding each other about the ultimate goal of having a baby.
Trying to conceive & drinking
The outlook isn’t quite as clear about the link between trying to conceive and drinking, but couples are generally told to forego drinking while they’re trying. One big reason for this that a woman could be pregnant without knowing it and still be consuming alcohol. Because alcohol can lead to birth defects, it is generally considered to be safer to stay away while trying to conceive. Drinking, however, has mixed results on whether it actually hinders conception. Some studies indicate that women who stay away from drinking are more likely to get pregnant, while others actually indicate that moderate alcohol users were more likely to conceive than those who didn’t drink anything.
A Personal Decision
Since some couples find themselves on a conception journey that continues for years, it might be a stretch to ask them to avoid alcohol altogether, particularly in the case of a special occasion or a vacation. Even when conception has occurred and a woman doesn’t know it, doctors generally advise that one drink won’t be harmful to a baby. Every couple needs to learn the facts and decide what they are comfortable with, and if an occasional glass of wine relaxes the woman and relieves stress, that could be the right choice on occasion. A healthy lifestyle is the best choice, but each couple has to determine what their own parameters are as they seek to achieve that healthy lifestyle.