Drinking alcohol when you're ovulating could make it harder to get pregnant, a small study suggests

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  • Drinking alcohol during the second half of your menstrual cycle could make it harder to get pregnant, a small study suggests.

  • Researchers found people who drank during the luteal phase of their menstrual cycles were 44% less likely to conceive.

  • It's important to note drinking is not a form of birth control.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Drinking alcohol when you're trying to get pregnant can make it harder to conceive - even if you do so in moderation, a small study suggests.

The report, published June 8 in the scientific journal Human Reproduction, found people who drank alcohol in the second half of their menstrual cycle were less likely to conceive than those who avoided drinking.

The study analyzed data from the Mount Sinai Study of Women Office Workers, which surveyed 4640 women from 1990 to 1994. The sample size of the study was 413 women, as women who had existing fertility issues or partners who had had a vasectomy were excluded from the population.

The number and types of drinks each participant had were recorded in daily self-reported journals. Urine samples were also submitted on days one and two of each menstrual cycle.

Researchers tracked each person for 19 menstrual cycles.

Those who drank during the second half of their menstrual cycle were less likely to conceive

A menstrual cycle consists of four parts: the menstrual phase, the follicular phase, the ovulation phase, and the luteal phase.

The menstrual phase starts on the first day of a person's period and lasts for three to eight days.

The follicular phase also starts on the first day of a person's period, however, it can last anywhere from 10 to 16 days. This is the period of time in which the uterine walls thicken with nutrients for any eggs that may implant later in the menstrual cycle.

The ovulation phase is when a person is the most fertile and normally occurs for 24 hours in the middle of a person's menstrual cycle.

The luteal phase is the last phase of the menstrual cycle. If an egg is implanted into the uterine wall, the lining of the urine wall remains thick to give the egg a better chance of surviving. This can also be the time of the month characterized by PMS.

According to the study, people who drank moderately and heavily during the luteal phase of their cycle were 44% less likely to conceive than those who did not drink.

Moderate drinking was defined as three to six drinks a week while heavy drinking was seven drinks or more in a week.

"During the luteal phase, which is the last two weeks of the menstrual cycle before bleeding would start and when the process of implantation occurs, not only heavy drinking but also moderate drinking was significantly associated with a reduced probability of conception," lead researcher Dr. Kira Taylor said.

Alcohol should not be used for pregnancy prevention

Pregnant woman
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While the study found alcohol may reduce one's chance of getting pregnant, Taylor said it does not mean drinking is a form of birth control.

"The results in this study should not be construed to mean that drinking alcohol prevents pregnancy," Taylor said in a press release. "In other words, alcohol is not birth control. Even if a woman drinks alcohol heavily, if she has unprotected intercourse, she can become pregnant."

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