Alcohol, Contraception and Preconception

Sheet 3

Strategies For Reducing Alcohol Exposed Pregnancies

  1. Reducing alcohol using
  2. Increasing use of effective contraception
  3. Both reducing alcohol use and increasing use of effective contraception

Preconception Care: Helping Women Prepare for Pregnancy

While 50% of pregnancies are unplanned, this means that 50% of pregnancies are planned. Service providers can help women to consider:

• What are the reasons I choose to drink?

• In what ways is alcohol a part of my life?

• How would I feel about not drinking at all at the next party I’m invited to?

• Do I associate drinking with smoking, eating, watching TV or other activities?

Sheet 3b


Can alcohol use affect fertility?

Emerging research suggests that alcohol use can have both short- and long-term effects of fertility.

• Light drinking (1-5 drinks a week) can reduce a woman’s chances of conceiving.

• Long-term heavy drinking can cause adult women to have irregular periods or stop ovulating, cause periods to stop altogether or lead to early menopause.

• Heavy drinkers who become pregnant are more likely to have miscarriages.

• Heavy drinking or binge drinking can lead to vomiting and reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills (emergency contraception is an option).

Click to download ‘Alcohol, Contraception and Preconception’ information sheet.

Created by and reproduced with kind permission from the British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health


  1. Ahmad N, et al (2008). Canadian Addiction Survey (CAS): Focus on gender. Health Canada: Ottawa.
  2. Best Start Resource Centre (2011). Is there a baby in your future – plan for it. Health Before PregnancyWorkbook. Available from:
  3. K, Singh S, Vaughan B,Trussell J,Bankole A (2008). Estimates of contraceptive failure from the 2002National Survey of Family Growth. Contraception, 77:10–21.
  4. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, ‘Alcohol and Hormones’. in Alcohol Alert No. 261994.
  5. Public Health Agency of Canada. (2005). Make every mother and child count. Reportonmaternal andchild health in Canada. Available at: .
  6. TinaKold, J., et al., Does moderate alcohol consumption affect fertility? Follow up study among couplesplanning first pregnancy. BMJ, 1998. 317(7157): p. 505-510.
  7. Zieman M. Overview of contraception. Version 17.2. UpToDate 2009 June1, 2009. Available at:

One comment

  1. Suggest linking to the AHS preconception health website There is information on alcohol for adults who are planning or not planning a pregnancy.

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