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Women who drink wine get pregnant more quickly
Women who drink wine achieve planned pregnancies faster than other women, new research has shown.
A study of almost 30 000 women shows that women who drink wine get pregnant more quickly than those who drink beer or spirits.
“Wine drinkers experienced significantly shorter waiting times [to pregnancy] compared with those who reported no wine intake,” says a report of the study in Human Reproduction (2003;18:1967-71), which was based on the Danish national birth cohort.
The aim of the study was to examine the relation between specific types of alcohol consumption and waiting time to pregnancy. Although several studies have looked at alcohol
consumption and women’s fecundity—the time it takes for a sexually active couple not using contraception to achieve pregnancy—the authors say that to their knowledge no study
has had the power or data to examine the effect of specific types of alcohol.
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Half of the women became pregnant within the first two months of trying, and 15% waited long than 12 months. In general, while they were trying to get pregnant, women consumed
more wine than beer and a very small amount of spirits. Almost 80% had a moderate intake of wine—between 0.5 and 7 glasses a week—but only half of the women consumed
the same amount of alcohol by drinking beer.
“When we divided the participants into exclusive preference groups—beer, wine, spirits, mixed and abstainers—wine preferrers experienced the shortest waiting times,”
wrote the researchers, who were led by Mette Juhl from the Danish Epidemiology Science Centre at the Statens Serum Institute, Copenhagen. “When we grouped the women
according to their drinking patterns, we found that women who drank only beer or only spirits waited longer to become pregnant than all other combinations.”
They added that, in general, the women who reported drinking no wine, beer, or spirits waited longer to get pregnant than the women who reported some intake.
Women who drank all three types of alcohol waited the shortest time to get pregnant. The authors said: “Our findings suggest that drinking wine may be associated with a
modestly decreased risk of sub-fecundity. Sub-fecundity did not appear to be related to beer or spirits consumption.”
Just how wine might have such an effect is not clear. The findings of other studies have suggested that moderate wine drinkers are at lower risk of lung cancer, cancer of the digestive tract,
stroke, and overall mortality than non-drinkers and moderate drinkers of beer and spirits. In addition, antioxidants have been identified as a potentially beneficial compound in wine.
The authors of the study caution that the wine drinking effect they observed could be explained by confounders: “If wine drinkers differ from others—if they, for example,
have fewer infections that cause sterility, have more sexual contacts, have more appropriate timing of intercourse, or have partners with better sperm quality—they would have shorter waiting times.”
Can You Drink While Trying to Get Pregnant?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently warned sexually active women that they should stop drinking alcohol if they’re not using birth control to prevent pregnancy.
While the warning raised some controversy, it highlighted the danger alcohol poses on to developing babies.
“Fetal alcohol syndrome is the leading known cause of mental retardation and is 100 percent preventable, unlike other forms of mental retardation caused by genetic abnormalities like
Down syndrome,” said Dr. Mara Thur, an Abington-Jefferson Health obstetrician gynecologist. She added that the incidence of fetal alcohol syndrome in the U.S. is approximately one to two cases per 1,000 live births.
Although Dr. Thur advises her patients to follow the “everything in moderation” guideline regarding behaviors and consumption prior to and during pregnancy, she said alcohol consumption
is very different.
“I usually recommend that patients stop drinking alcohol right around the time they are attempting to conceive,” she said. “One issue in early pregnancy is that crucial organs develop
before eight weeks of pregnancy – often before a woman even knows she’s pregnant.”
Because of those crucial early developments, Dr. Thur advises women to err on the side of caution and to stop drinking alcohol. That’s because excessive alcohol consumption during
pregnancy can cause fetal alcohol syndrome, which is a constellation of physical and mental defects.
“In the same breath, I also try to allay patients’ concerns when they find out they are unexpectedly pregnant and are worried about the one glass of wine they had before they knew
they were pregnant,” Dr. Thur said. “Even though technically no amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy, most studies have shown that fetal alcohol syndrome is caused by
moderate to excessive alcohol consumption on a routine basis during pregnancy. That means four to five drinks per day.”
Additionally, women trying to get pregnant should generally avoid unpasteurized cheese and meats, raw fish, and fish with potentially high mercury counts such as swordfish,
mackerel or tilefish.
“I also recommend no more than one can of light tuna fish per week,” Dr. Thur said.
Dr. Thur’s recommendation about coffee and caffeine for women trying to get pregnant is in line with her “everything in moderation” motto – some studies have shown that
excessive caffeine consumption may increase a woman’s risk of miscarriage. Excessive caffeine consumption is considered greater than 200 mg of caffeine, which is two cups of coffee or five sodas.
If you’re trying to get pregnant, you shouldn’t just focus on what you shouldn’t be doing or eating – there are some things you should start doing.
“Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and weight is most important,” Dr. Thur said. “Obese women can sometimes have difficulty getting pregnant and it has been shown that losing
only 10 percent of your body weight may improve your chances of becoming pregnant.”
If you’re planning on getting pregnant, Dr. Thur always recommends that you start a prenatal vitamin with folic acid three months prior to attempting to conceive.
If a woman isn’t necessarily trying to get pregnant, but also isn’t using a reliable form of birth control, she also recommends that they take a prenatal vitamin.
“Because major organ formation happens before most women even know they’re pregnant, I recommend they have that prenatal vitamin on board with folic acid to be safe,” she said. “As for alcohol consumption, no amount of alcohol is truly safe during pregnancy.”
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