The dreaded two-week wait. You know the drill: you've timed everything just right, you've done all of the necessary preparations, and now it's a waiting game before you can take a pregnancy test.
The two-week wait, which occurs in the luteal phase of your menstrual cycle, is the time between ovulation (when the egg is released from the ovary) and either the start of your period or the time when you can take a pregnancy test.
During this time, your body is going through some pretty major changes. If you've successfully conceived, an egg will have been fertilized. It will travel down the fallopian tube and implant in the lining of your uterus, where it will hopefully grow into a healthy baby. If not, the lining of the uterus will shed, and you'll get your period.
But here's the thing: It's not just your body changing during the two-week wait. Your mind is also racing with all kinds of thoughts and emotions. In an effort to ease the anxiety, it can be helpful to keep living your life as you normally would — which may beg questions like, “Can I get a glass of wine at dinner, or should I skip it?" "Is alcohol consumption bad during the two-week wait, or is a mimosa at brunch okay?”
So, Can You Drink During the Two-Week Wait?
Before we get into the details about the effects of drinking alcohol in the early (and we mean early!) stages of pregnancy, let's first focus on how alcohol consumption may affect your fertility.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) has reviewed several studies on the impact of alcohol on fertility — some concluding that drinking decreases fertility and others finding that alcohol has no significant effect on fertility. As a result, the ASRM's consensus is that high levels of alcohol consumption by women, defined as more than two drinks per day, should be avoided when attempting pregnancy. That number goes down to zero if you're in the two-week wait or suspect you may be pregnant.
When it comes to men, there is substantial data on significant alcohol consumption and its negative impact on male fertility, including sperm count, motility, morphology, and even testosterone levels. So, while they may not be the ones who will be carrying the pregnancy, it's important for men cut down on their drinking during this time, too.
The Effects of Drinking Alcohol Early in Pregnancy
When it comes to pregnancy, you'll want to do everything in your power to ensure the health and well-being of your future child(ren). One of the main reasons why doctors may caution against drinking alcohol during the two-week wait, or while trying to conceive altogether, is because of the negative effects that alcohol consumption can have on a developing fetus if you do become pregnant.
When alcohol is consumed during pregnancy, it passes through the placenta and into the baby's bloodstream. The CDC reports that this can not only increase the risk of problems with the baby's development in utero, but it can heighten the risk of miscarriage. Consuming large amounts of alcohol during pregnancy can also cause fetal alcohol syndrome, a serious health condition.
The Consensus on Drinking While TTC
Whether you're trying to conceive at home or going through IVF, we know the desire for that evening glass of wine can be strong. However, since the research states that no amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy, it's safe to assume that you should avoid it during the two-week wait until you know for sure that you're not pregnant. Once you get your period, though, two drinks per day or less are A-okay to enjoy while you still can!
Jennifer “Jay” Palumbo is a freelance writer, infertility and women’s rights advocate, former stand-up comic, author of the blog, “The 2 Week Wait,” and proud IVF Mom. Her articles have been featured in Time magazine, Huffington Post, and ScaryMommy. She has been interviewed on news outlets such as CNN, NPR, and BBC, where she has demonstrated her ability to make even reproductive issues fun and educational. You can follow her "infertility humor" on Instagram at @jennjaypal.