Effects of alcohol consumption on female fertility during an 18-year period

Fertil Steril. 2004 Feb;81(2):379-83. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2003.06.018.


Objective: To investigate the long-term effects of alcohol consumption on female fertility.

Design: Prospective study of a random sample of 7,393 women, selected from the 445,000 inhabitants of Stockholm County, Sweden, in 1969. Self-estimated alcohol consumption was obtained from postal questionnaires. Data on hospitalizations for pregnancy outcomes including infertility examinations were analyzed until 1987.

Setting: Healthy women in Stockholm County, Sweden.

Patient(s): Seven thousand three hundred ninety-three women in the age range 18-28 years.

Main outcome measure(s): Rates of hospitalization for deliveries, miscarriages, legal abortions, extrauterine pregnancies, pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, and infertility examinations were analyzed in relation to the intake of alcohol.

Result(s): Two hundred fifty-two women underwent infertility examinations. High consumers had an increased risk for such examinations, as compared with moderate consumers: relative risk ratio (RR) = 1.59 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.09-2.31); and low consumers had a decreased risk (RR = 0.64; CI: 0.46-0.90). Moreover, for both high and low consumers we observed a significantly lower number of first and second partus. Rates of miscarriage, extrauterine pregnancy, and pelvic inflammatory disease did not differ between high and low consumers of alcohol.

Conclusion(s): High alcohol consumption was associated with increased risk of infertility examinations at hospitals and with lower numbers of first and second partus. It may be important for the female partner in an infertile couple to limit alcohol intake or to not drink at all.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects*
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Fertility / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy Outcome / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy, Ectopic / epidemiology
  • Sweden