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One large glass of wine a day can slash a woman’s chance of conceiving, research shows.

Experts believe that too much alcohol interrupts the female natural cycle and may also damage the egg.

But they say there is no need for women to give up drinking completely when trying for a baby – as there is no evidence the odd glass hampers fertility.

Danish researchers conducted a nine-year study of 6,120 women aged 21 to 45 who were trying to conceive.

They completed questionnaires on how often they had alcohol and exactly what they drank.

The results, published in the BMJ, show that the women who had at least a 250ml glass a day – equivalent to two bottles or 14 servings a week – were 18 per cent less likely to conceive over a year.

Women who had just a little less – up to 13 servings a week – did not experience any reduction in conception chances.

But the authors cautioned that women should steer clear of alcohol ‘during their fertile window until a pregnancy has been ruled out’, to ensure they do not accidentally drink while pregnant.

The scientists, from Aarhus University Hospital, also found that spirits seemed to have a small effect on fertility.

Women who drank one measure a week were 11 per cent less likely to conceive while those who had two measures reduced their chances by 13 per cent.

Around one in eight of all women in Britain experience difficulties conceiving a baby in the first year of trying.

NHS guidelines say theyshould be teetotal while trying for a baby as well as throughout the pregnancy, as there is some evidence alcohol can harm the foetus.

But other experts said these results in fact show that there was no need for women trying to conceive to give up alcohol completely.

Dr Annie Britton, an expert in alcohol consumption at University College London, says that the results ‘offer some reassurances’ to couples trying to start a family.

She said it suggests that ‘total abstinence may not be necessary to maximise conception rates’ because ‘if alcohol is consumed moderately, it seems that this may not affect fertility’.

‘However, it would be wise to avoid binge drinking, both for the potential disruption to menstrual cycles and also for the potential harm to a baby during early pregnancy,’ she said.

‘If a couple are experiencing difficulty in conceiving, it makes sense for both partners to cut down on their alcohol intake.’

Darren Griffin, Professor of Genetics at the University of Kent, said: ‘The overwhelming message of this study is “steady as she goes”.

If you do drink while trying to have children, do it in moderation and don’t binge drink.’ Professor Simon Fishel, the managing director of CARE Fertility, a providers of private fertility clinics, added: ‘The study appears to give some reassurances that, in the general population who wish to conceive, moderate alcohol drinking in this population does not appear to affect the chance of conception.’

* A fifth of mothers-to-be suffer from extreme worry during the first 12 weeks of their pregnancy, research has revealed.

The baby’s health was the biggest concern, the survey of 202 women by pregnancy health firm Premaitha Health found, causing anxiety for 85 per cent.

Another quarter fretted about unexpected changes to their body, while one in five were anxious about trying to keep the pregnancy a secret from friends and colleagues.

Daily Mail