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Alcohol, smoking & other nasties

Alcohol, smoking & other nasties

Most of us enjoy some guilty pleasures from time to time, but when trying to conceive it’s a good idea to reign it in. Although it may seem obvious, many people don’t truly understand the impact that alcohol and drugs can have on their fertility and a new born baby. It’s about oxidative stress on the cells.


Alcohol is everywhere! If it’s a temptation for you then read on.

Although there is mixed research on this subject, there is information to show that alcohol has a substantially negative effect on both natural conception and IVF. The general consensus among medical professionals is that the risk of miscarriage begins to occur with the consumption of around 4 drinks per week. It is not confirmed why the effect occurs but there is research to show that the more alcohol we consume the higher our estradiol, testosterone and LH (luteinizing hormone) levels are. These hormonal disruptions can affect overall results during fertility treatments. Putting it all very simply, the liver is responsible for metabolising excess hormones. So if you’re putting strain on the liver then both your ovarian function and endometrial receptivity can be impaired.

Oh, and for you guys out there, alcohol can decrease your number of normal sperm. Studies show there’s an increase in the chance of miscarriage if the father drank 4 or more drinks per week in the month prior to conception. So stick to drinking moderately or even take a break.


Smoking is not good. This is a no brainer. Smoking is very toxic to both sperm and eggs which will heavily increase your risk of miscarriage or dramatically affect the health of your baby. Smoking while trying to conceive or while pregnant is not a good idea.

Recreational drugs (including Marijuana)

When couples, or individuals, are trying to start a family, it’s not the time to be taking recreational drugs. There are robust studies showing that the mitochondria in sperm can be impaired from the toxins in these drugs. This then effects the capacity for sperm to fertilize an egg, when trying naturally or through IVF.

The same goes for egg quality and egg production. Marijuana, for example, can drop the levels of LH (luteinizing hormone) which us girls need to ovulate.

What I’m trying to say is, recreational drugs are not a good idea.


Okay, we live in a coffee culture. Don’t panic. Research shows that up to 200mg of coffee a day should not affect your fertility, that’s a couple of Lattes. Remember tea, soda and chocolate can also contain caffeine. I suggest to patients to watch how caffeine affects them. If it makes you shaky and anxious then it may not be good for you.

Taking a break from these guilty pleasures can help regenerate sperm and give the body a chance of bringing forth some healthier eggs.

Dr Julie Vecera is one of Australia’s leading practitioners in women’s health and fertility and has presented widely on the topic of fertility acupuncture and women’s health over the past decade. Julie is a Doctor of Chinese Medicine and certified Nutritionist.  She is the founder of The Fertility Pod and the Fertility Lifestyle Program which is the result of years of helping couples with infertility issues.