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Everyone knows that alcohol and cigarettes can have devastating effects on an unborn baby's health, and most people are also aware that large amounts of coffee and other caffeinated drinks may not be good.

But how bad are these things when you are still trying to conceive? Do coffee, alcohol, and cigarettes decrease your chances of getting pregnant? 

Smoking and getting pregnant

We're taking our data from a Canadian study of 2,607 pregnancies. Both partners were asked about their cigarette use, and the study team also had information about the participants' prior history of smoking. Interestingly, a relatively high percent of those couples trying to conceive included at least one smoker 27 percent of men vs 21 percent of women. On average, women who were smokers were found to be 17 percent less likely to conceive during a cycle, while men who were smokers were 16 percent less likely to get their partner pregnant. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the more cigarettes a woman smoked, the less likely she was to get pregnant. Interestingly, the same is not true for men (who should obviously still stop smoking, for their health and their future baby's health).

Couples in which both partners smoked more than 10 cigarettes daily are more likely to see negative effects on their fertility, namely a 28 percent reduced chance of getting pregnant during each cycle. The conclusion? Smoking cigarettes negatively impacts both male and female fertility. When you take into account that smoking is extremely dangerous for a fetus, it is an absolutely marvelous idea to stop smoking before you get pregnant. This is true for men as well as women, because second-hand smoke is almost as bad as first-hand smoke.

How about coffee? Is that safer?

Coffee is such a large part of our society, and almost everyone enjoys a cup of coffee regularly. What may surprise you is that the study of nearly 3,000 pregnancies only included 16 percent (men) and 12 percent (women) who consumed more than 500 mg of caffeine per day. Your average cup of coffee has about 100 mg, and that is as much as one third of respondents consumed. Another third enjoyed between one and two cups (up to 300 mg) a day. You want to know the interesting thing? Women who are moderate coffee drinkers were found to have a slightly higher chance of conceiving during each month.

Men, on the other hand, saw a minor reduction in their chance to get their partner pregnant! Overall, caffeine intake has a very limited effect on fertility. It has been shown to have a possible effect on a fetus, so reducing your caffeine intake t0 one cup (100 mg) daily once you have that positive pregnancy test is something you should consider if morning sickness doesn't give you a natural aversion.

Finally, alcohol

Alcohol consumption during pregnancy has long been linked to fetal alcohol syndrome, which can cause physical and mental problems for a child. As little as a glass of alcohol a week during pregnancy can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome, or four glasses in one sitting. That is enough of a reason for a woman to avoid alcohol when she is trying to conceive, at least during the luteal phase of her cycle. Since she never knows if she is pregnant during this time, it is best not to gamble with the potential baby's health during this volatile time. Women drinking more than two glasses of wine a week had a reduced chance of getting pregnant during a particular cycle.

Men who drank more than ten beers were less likely to get their partner pregnant, and the same was true for more than six glasses or liquor. Don't ask me what's with the wine and beer; wine is obviously not the only type of alcohol women enjoy I am having a beer as I am writing this. This is what the research team recorded, and the overall message that drinking alcohol does have some effect on your chances to get pregnant quickly should be quite enough to make you think about how much alcohol you want to consume during your TTC adventures.

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