Alcohol use in Pregnancy


As promised, each Thursday, we will now offer you a piece of educational, science, or research-related information.  The purpose of our #ThursdayThoughts post is to share with you fact-based content that can enlighten and assist you on your fertility journey.  Enjoy our post! Helping to Create New Beginnings…

Alcohol use in Pregnancy

Is a glass of wine okay?

A frequent question that arises in couples attempting to conceive is can she still partake in alcohol?  Is a glass of wine or a cocktail okay? In pregnancy, ALL of the major medical societies agree pregnant women should abstain from alcohol.  That includes the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control, the American Pregnancy Association, the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine, and many more.  There is no safe limit of alcohol in pregnancy.  Alcohol includes everything from beer, wine, and liquors- even when diluted in cocktails.   The consequences of alcohol use in pregnancy can cause permanent, and sometimes severe, neurodevelopmental issues in the growing fetus, known as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. 

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder can manifest as a wide array of symptoms.  Although some aspects of the syndrome may be seen as birth defects, such as heart and hearing problems,  FASD’s symptoms are also neurological in nature, such as behavioral issues and low IQ. The CDC states that FASD is the leading cause of preventable neurologic disability and mental retardation in children. At the severe end of the spectrum, FASD children will need life long care and assistance and will not be able to live independently as adults.

But what about while trying to conceive? If you had a couple of glasses of wine during your fertile window, no need to fret, because it takes ~ 5 days for an embryo to implant after ovulation, so by then the alcohol was out of your system.  However, an embryo will implant and grow within a woman’s body, being vulnerable to alcohol exposure,  for an entire week before a pregnancy test can detect pregnancy hormone levels.  The first trimester of pregnancy is critical to the development of the neurological system of the young baby, and is especially susceptible to teratogens such as alcohol.    For this reason, women should be aware of their alcohol use, and cut back if you are hoping to become pregnant.  If you have trouble cutting back on alcohol intake or if you sometimes take in levels of alcohol that can leave you in unsafe situations (binge drinking), talk to your doctor about getting help with quitting alcohol before you attempt pregnancy.  

So does alcohol hurt fertility? Unfortunately, the evidence that we have is observational, looking at large groups of people and comparing them, and this sort of evidence is riddled with reliability issues. But there does seem to be a dose-response relationship to alcohol use and problems conceiving, with heavy alcohol drinkers being more likely to need more fertility help. 

For more information regarding evaluation and treatment options that are available, please schedule an appointment with one of our providers at the Fertility Institute of Hawaii 808-545-2800 or visit our website at

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