If you’re trying to get pregnant the current NHS advice is to abstain completely from alcohol.
But a moderate amount of red wine – no more than five glasses a month – could actually boost the chances of conceiving, research suggests.
The study found a link between drinking red wine and healthy ovaries that produce more eggs.
White wine, beer, spirits or more than five glasses of red a month did not have the same effect.
Doctors have said alcohol should be avoided when trying for a baby to prevent harming development on conception.
Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in the US set out to examine the effect of alcohol on fertility because previous findings were ‘conflicting’.
A moderate amount of red wine – no more than five glasses a month – could actually boost the chances of conceiving, research from Washington University School of Medicine suggests
They studied 135 women aged 18 to 44 and measured their ovarian reserve.
This is the ovaries’ capacity to make healthy egg cells, which is measured by counting the antral follicles that produce them.
Antral follicle count (AFC) is the standard way of assessing a woman’s fertility.
The typical number for a woman in her 30s is around 12 or 13, but this decreases over time.
Women who drank moderate amounts of red wine were found to have the highest ovarian reserve.
The researchers, led by Dr Ashley Eskew, wrote: ‘The impact of lifestyle factors including dietary patterns and alcohol intake on ovarian reserve are conflicting.
‘The objective of this study was to determine if alcohol intake is associated with ovarian reserve as determined by AFC.
Red wine intake is associated with ovarian reserve as measured by AFC.’ They were unsure about how exactly red wine might boost ovary health, but said it could be that it contains the anti-inflammatory compound resveratrol.
The findings will be presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in San Antonio, Texas, next week. However, other experts urged caution, saying that a larger-scale study was needed before any conclusions could be drawn.
Head of the British Fertility Society Adam Balen said: ‘This is an interesting study, albeit with a small sample size which means that it doesn’t reach statistical significance’
Head of the British Fertility Society Adam Balen said: ‘This is an interesting study, albeit with a small sample size which means that it doesn’t reach statistical significance.
It is an interesting idea that a small amount of red wine might be positively associated with ovarian reserve.
‘However we have to remember that the exposure of the developing foetus to alcohol may cause irreversible developmental damage and so alcohol consumption should be less than six units per week for women wishing to conceive.’
And Dr Channa Jayasena, a lecturer in reproductive endocrinology at Imperial College London, warned women not to ‘rush out’ and drink red wine.
He said: ‘There is a lot of interest in whether anti-oxidants could improve fertility in men and women. It is tempting to tell women to rush out and drink red wine, which contains anti-oxidants, but this study does not support that.’
Debate has long raged over whether pregnant women should abstain from alcohol once they are pregnant – as recommended by the NHS.
But last month Bristol University researchers found there was ‘surprisingly limited’ evidence that drinking up to four units a week caused birth defects.