The consumption of alcohol has usually been something to avoid when pregnant or when trying to conceive, however, a new study carried out in the USA has suggested that for women who drink a glass of red wine a week could have superior fertility than women who do not consume any red wine. Mr David Ogutu, expert obstetrician and gynaecologist, discusses this study and its results.
A recent American study was reported in the Independent newspaper, suggesting that women who drink one glass of red wine a week boast better fertility than those who do not.
Scientists at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, believe that this could be due to an antioxidant that is abundant in the wine. This antioxidant is called resveratrol, and is a molecule found in red grapes, cocoa and blueberries. This antioxidant helps to protect cells from biological stress.
What were the results of this study?
The small study surveyed 135 women aged 18 to 44. They kept an alcohol diary, noting how much they consumed every month. The women had regular ultrasound scans during this period to assess their ovarian reserve, which is the number of viable eggs remaining. Those who regularly consumed red wine, regardless of other factors such as age and income, had a better ovarian reserve.
What do the results mean?
It should be pointed out that the study only showed some benefit with moderate alcohol use. However, the sample size is too small to draw any strong conclusions. Several other factors including diet and exercise that could have had an effect on their fertility was not investigated.
Ultrasound scans to assess ovarian reserve does not signify better fertility as it cannot assess egg quality, but only quantity. The best assessment for fertility is the numbers that have a live birth over time.
The occasional small glass or two a week does not appear to have harmful effects on the developing foetus and fertility potential. However, drinking to improve fertility is not recommended as the evidence to support this is very weak.
If you would like to discuss fertility options, make an appointment with a specialist.