Plus, our favorite mocktails for dry times
Today, we are covering probably the most asked question while trying to conceive: can I drink while trying to get pregnant? So, we are giving you all the facts on whether it’s okay, along with what’s the deal with sulphite in wine.
Can I drink alcohol while trying to conceive?
If you’re pregnant, the answer is straight-forward: Alcohol is a teratogen, which means it can cross the placenta and cause harm—and the risks are real. Excessive alcohol consumption can cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. But what about just a little bit? There’s no clear threshold that is guaranteed safe, so your best bet is to abstain.
But what about if you’re trying to conceive? It’s clear that excessive drinking is detrimental to egg and sperm quality. As for lower amounts, it’s really hard to nail down how alcohol affects fertility because of “confounding” factors. Are drinkers more likely to smoke? Less likely to be stressed? More likely to have frequent intercourse? And then there are questions about the consumption itself: A glass of wine vs a tequila shot? Seven drinks in a night vs one every day of the week? So many questions, but there’s more evidence that minimal to moderate levels of alcohol are likely more harmful to fertility than neutral or helpful.
That said, we know that a fertility journey can be longer and harder than expected, and sometimes you might want a drink. If a glass of wine eases the sting of a BFN (big fat negative), don’t feel guilty. The occasional drink—especially during the first two weeks of your cycle (before ovulation)—isn’t the end of the world.
Do I need to worry about sulphites in wine?
Ever wonder what “no added sulphites” means when you see it on a bottle of wine? A post from Washington-based REI Dr. Lora Shahine recently got us thinking (check her out for tons of great info).
As she explains, some sulphites (A.K.A. sulfur dioxides) occur naturally when wine is made. Some are added for preservation—a technique that dates back to Roman times.
What does it mean for fertility? A 2018 animal study found that exposure to sulfur dioxide decreased testosterone levels and hurt sperm parameters. Another 2018 study found that high levels of sulfur dioxide (air pollution is a culprit) is associated with lower fertility rates and miscarriage.
Don’t freak out—there are sulphites in a lot of the foods and drinks we consume. The acceptable daily intake is 0.7 milligrams per kilogram of body weight (so, say you weigh 130 pounds, that’s 41 milligrams). For context, a five-ounce pour of wine might have anywhere from 0.75 to 30 milligrams of sulphites.
But when you’re trying to conceive, it makes sense to try to reduce your sulphite intake wherever you can. A few tips from our naturopathic doctors:
- Cut back on how often and how much wine you drink (we know—womp, womp)
- When you do dabble, look for organic wines, which typically have reduced sulphites
- Make your own spritzer to dilute the concentration (also, very refreshing!)
- Eat fresh, homemade meals instead of preserved foods
What are some great mocktail options while I’m trying to conceive?
Going booze-free is a whole lot easier when you’ve got other options to choose from. Here are a few we love to sip when we’re abstaining:
Acid League: This Canadian vinegar company also produces popular “wine proxies” by blending juices, teas, spices and bitters to mimic wine’s complexity.
Partake: Love craft beer? While a lot of non-alcoholic options are limited to lagers, this award-winning brewer offers an IPA, blond, stout and more.
Seedlip: This British company distills booze-free spirits loaded with herbs and botanicals that boost the flavours of any mocktail you mix up.
Pomegranate Juice: The jury’s still out on if pomegranate *actually* helps with implantation, but it never hurts to sip up some extra antioxidants. It’s an acquired taste, but we like to throw it in a wine glass for good measure.
Virgin Moscow Mule: So, this is basically just ginger beer but with ice, lime, mint leaves and a copper mug, it’s the perfect patio drink.