Caffeine & Fertilty

A question on the minds of many women trying to get pregnant is whether the caffeine in their morning cup of coffee affects their fertility.

A large study carried out by the Yale Medical School found that the risk of infertility (which they defined as not being able to conceive after 12 months) was 55%  higher for women drinking just 1 cup of coffee per day, this was then 100% higher for women drinking 1.5 – 3 cups per day and 176% higher for more than 3 cups per day (1) and this was then backed up 5 years later by a study in Europe which found that a high caffeine intake in women slowed rates of conception. (2)

Additionally there is evidence that coffee drinking in men and women increases miscarriage rates and that caffeine intake during pregnancy has a negative influence of fetal growth. (3) Most studies indicate that it is the consumption of 300mg or more of caffeine daily that can lead to fertility problems, it is estimated that most Americans drink more that 350mg per day, as we are not far behind America in the obesity epidemic I assume that the figure for the UK & Ireland is similar to this.

Caffeine can have an adverse effect on fertility
Caffeine can have an adverse effect on fertility

Also remember that there is not just caffeine in Coffee, it lurks in tea, carbonated drinks and chocolate. Below is a chart that shows the Caffeine content in everyday items:

Item Caffeine (mg)

Coffee, brewed (240ml/8oz) – 60-120mg

Coffee, instant (240ml/8oz) – 70mg

Coffee, decaf (240ml/8oz) – 2-5mg

Tea, black, 5-min steep (240ml/8oz) – 60-100mg

Tea, green (240ml/8oz) – 20mg

Coca-Cola (355ml/12oz) – 34mg

Milk Chocolate (30g/1oz) – 1-15mg

Dark Chocolate (30g/1oz) – 20mg

So, coffee drinkers having difficulty falling pregnant are advised to reduce their intake significantly and find alternatives to their morning and afternoon fix.

References

  1. Dulgosz L, Brachs M B 1992 Coffee reduces fertility. Epidemiologic Reviews 14:83
  2. Bolumar F. Olsen J. Rebagliato M, Bisanti L 1997 Caffeine intake and delayed conception: a European multicentre study on infertility and subfecundity. European Study Group on Infertility and Subfecundity. American Journal of Epidemiology 146(I):32-41
  3. Ford J H, MacCormack L, Hiller J 1994 Pregnancy and lifestyle study. Mutation Research 313:153-164

Littleton J, Clavey S 2004 Treatment of Infertility with Chinese Medicine. Churchill Livingstone

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