For the best chance at getting pregnant, it is best to abstain from both drug use and alcohol before conception. That goes for women and men.
Drug and Alcohol Use Before Conception
Everyone knows the devastating consequences that come from drinking or misusing drugs while a woman is pregnant. Based on a growing body of research, it is apparent that drug use and alcohol before conception may also reduce fertility.
Knowing these risks can help clarify the impacts and consequences of a person’s drug or alcohol problem. If you and your partner want to start a family, then getting help to treat a substance use disorder is essential. Read on to learn more about the links between drug or alcohol use and infertility, and how to overcome your substance problems.
How Long a Woman Should Give Up Alcohol Before Conception
Many women like to have a drink to wind down at the end of a hectic day. On the other hand, some women don’t have control and drink too much regularly. No matter, a study documented in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology has shown that a woman should stop drinking alcohol approximately six months before conception.1 Likewise, men should abstain from alcohol for six months before conception as well. Both of these precautions lower the risk of giving birth to a baby with congenital heart disease.
Should Men Give Up Alcohol Before Conception?
A study published in JAMA Pediatrics uncovered that men who drink experience a heightened risk of sperm abnormalities.2 As a result, defects in the digestive tract, limbs, or heart may occur in an unborn baby. Also, a cleft lip may occur. Although the chances of experiencing these congenital disabilities are low, it is worth being aware of the consequences of drinking before conception.
How Long a Woman Should Give Up Drug Use Before Conception
There are a variety of recreational drugs that can cause adverse effects on unborn babies. Besides refraining from drug misuse during pregnancy, it is vital to stop taking these substances before conception. Studies have linked drug misuse to infertility. For a couple looking to start a family, drug use can be the tragic reason the woman cannot get pregnant.
Marijuana Misuse and Infertility
An established study concluded that women who admitted to smoking marijuana had a heightened risk for ovulation problems.3 An anovulatory cycle, a month when no egg is released, was most prevalent in females who used marijuana within one year of trying to have a baby.
A different study found a link between marijuana use and low sperm count.4 Both of these studies suggest that it is best to stop smoking marijuana before trying to conceive. Experts recommend that women stop smoking the substance one year before trying to become pregnant. Men should stop using marijuana three months before trying to conceive.
Cocaine Misuse and Infertility
Cocaine is another recreational drug that jeopardizes a person’s fertility. Again, both men and women are affected. A study performed in the 1990s examined the impact of cocaine on ovulation.5 Researchers discovered that cocaine might make a woman’s menstrual cycle inconsistent, and fallopian tube abnormalities may result from cocaine use.
A 1990 Yale University study found that using cocaine lowers a man’s sperm count.6 Also, long-term use makes it difficult to maintain testosterone levels. In other words, it harms the quality of a man’s sperm.
Since cocaine can pass from the sperm to an egg after fertilization, a mother is at higher risk of miscarriage. Therefore, it is advised for a couple to suspend this type of drug use a few months before trying to conceive.
It is Not Always Easy to Quit
Although most people have good intentions and want to deliver healthy babies, it is not always easy to stop taking drugs when a misuse disorder exists. Some people may decide to quit cold turkey, but this can lead to harmful results. Also, relapse is common without solid treatment.
Other times, a woman may become pregnant without any pre-planning. Upon learning about her pregnancy, she may try to quit drugs or alcohol without success. As previously discussed, these types of substances can have severe effects on an unborn child and can lead to long-term health consequences for them.
Seeking Help for an Alcohol or Drug Use Before Conception
If a person’s drug use is more than recreational and is hard to quit, it is essential to seek assistance. Along with various harmful effects on the individual’s health, we’ve shown that fertility challenges are another consequence of substance use.
Getting sober is vital before pregnancy. As discussed, a woman must abstain from drugs and alcohol before conception. At Ocean Hills Recovery, we provide a relaxing atmosphere to begin treatment. We have various treatment options that help a person prepare mentally and physically for starting a family. To receive more information, contact our compassionate and professional staff today
About the author:
Nicole earned her doctoral degree in Psychology with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy at California School of Professional Psychology. Her doctoral thesis was a grounded theory study exploring the role of alienation and connectedness in the life course of addiction. She specializes in treating addiction and trauma. She is certified in DBT and EMDR, two of the most highly regarded evidence-based methods in psychotherapy. Dr. Doss is a strong LGBT advocate and provides open and affirming support to her LGBT clients.
Dr. Doss’s earlier education included graduating cum laude from the University of California, Irvine in June of 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While there, she received honors recognition by Psi Chi and Golden Key honor societies.
Nicole has been working with alcoholics and addicts in our California drug and alcohol rehab center as an advisor and counselor for many years. She is passionate about providing quality counseling and care to her clients. Her main focus is on integrating the 12 Step and disease models of addiction with experiential therapeutic theory. She is married to Greg; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.