How do these inputs in your body or environment affect conception? Here we address some of the top questions about substances that may influence fertility.
Would weekend "social drinking" of alcohol affect fertility?
According to Marie O'Sullivan, a registered nurse, most people drink an occasional alcoholic beverage when they are trying to conceive without any problems. "I have always thought it best to eat and drink as if you were pregnant when you are trying to conceive," she says, but adds: "As always, talk to your OB as each physician has different opinions."
Alcohol can be a factor in irregular sperm production, so abstention isn't just for prospective moms. According to Dr. John Jarrett, MD, author of The Fertility Guide, "Alcohol abuse adversely affects sperm counts and sperm function. This is not to imply that you can't have a beer or two on the weekend, but heavy alcohol intake can have a very significant effect."
Are antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications OK when trying to conceive?
There isn't data to suggest that these drugs impede fertility, except that they do sometimes have the side effect of decreased libido, which would just make conceiving feel like more work! The main concern is the effect on the pregnancy should you conceive, particularly in the early weeks.
Dr. Gerald DiLeo, MD, an experienced obstetrician, says it would be best to be off all such medications before conceiving. However, he says, "Paxil is acceptable after the first trimester, if the benefits outweigh the 'theoretical' risks. If your depression is of a threatening nature, it's important to stay on an antidepressant." If you are taking medications expressly for anxiety, he recommends daily exercise and routine bedtime and waking times.
Beth M. Iovinelli, RN, BSN, IBCLC, agrees but adds the reminder not to stop antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication abruptly. If you are planning on becoming pregnant and are taking an antidepressant, or any medication for that matter, it is important to talk it over with your healthcare provider.