We’re probably all familiar with the fact that alcohol is a big no-no when you’re pregnant. But that’s kinda the whole point of egg freezing: you’re not getting pregnant right now! Many women who are prepping for an egg freezing cycle are concerned about their ability to fit the process into their everyday lives, and for many women that includes a few drinks here and there—whether it’s raising a glass of champagne at your best friend’s wedding, venting with coworkers over a beer at happy hour, enjoying some red wine on a hot date (woohoo!), or sharing a cocktail with a client after signing a big contract. A question we hear often: can I drink during my egg freezing cycle?
Often, women undergoing in vitro fertilization are told to stop drinking altogether—but they’re in a pretty different situation, since they’re trying to get pregnant right away. So, what’s the deal with alcohol and egg freezing? Do you have to give up the Friday afternoon happy hour now in order to plan for the future?
Does alcohol affect fertility? Maybe.
The first step in figuring out if alcohol and egg freezing is a bad combo: check out the research on the relationship between alcohol and female fertility. In short, the results are conflicted. A 2011 study on the effects of alcohol on in vitro fertilization (IVF) demonstrated that women who drank four or more drinks per week had a live birth rate 16% lower than those who drank fewer than four drinks per week. A small 2012 study of 36 women concluded that long-term moderate drinking may lead to diminished ovarian reserve.
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However, a study published in 2016 of 6,120 Danish women who were trying to conceive without fertility treatment determined that moderate alcohol consumption does not impair fertility. In this study, the women had on average two drinks (beer, wine, dessert wine or spirits) per week. But the women studied had approximately the same rate of pregnancy whether they drank 1 to 3, 4 to 7, or 8 to 13 drinks per week. (Those women who drank 14 or more drinks per week did have a lower rate of conception.)
Drinking alcohol during the egg freezing process?
So we checked in with Dr. Joshua Klein, reproductive endocrinologist and chief medical officer here at Extend Fertility, to get his input. “I don’t think there’s any evidence that alcohol, in moderation, has a negative impact on egg quality or ovarian response,” he says. Dr. Klein tells women who are freezing their eggs that they don’t need to stop drinking alcohol during the process as long as they’re drinking in moderation. Certainly binge drinking is not a good idea near or during stimulation for egg freezing—or in general, he adds. But there’s no need to cut out alcohol during egg freezing altogether, since there’s no evidence that alcohol affects egg freezing success rates or a woman’s health during the process.
Moderate consumption of alcohol during egg freezing is the key
In the Danish study, a glass of wine measured four ounces. Some of us might consider that a small pour (we’re guilty!). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines a “drink” as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor. And they define heavy drinking in women as eight or more drinks a week, and binge drinking as four or more drinks in one sitting. So it’s important to be aware of your true consumption, even as wine glasses get larger and larger (just us?).
While moderate drinking may not be harmful to your fertility, there are other effects of alcohol on women’s bodies. The long-term health risks of alcohol use, the CDC says, may include high blood pressure, heart and liver disease, certain cancers, memory problems, depression, anxiety, social problems, and alcohol dependence or alcoholism. So even though you might not have to give up alcohol for your egg freezing cycle, if it’s affecting your life in other negative ways, it’s a good idea to seek help with the habit.
To learn more about the ins and outs of the egg freezing process, contact us.