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Did you know drinking too much coffee can reduce your chances of getting pregnant?

Pregnant women are often asked to stay away from coffee, but did you know caffeine consumption can also impact your overall fertility.
Excess consumption of caffeine can have adverse effects. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Parul Agrawal Published: 27 May 2021, 04:46 pm IST
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Our morning teas or coffees are like a beacon of hope for the entire day. For many of us, tea or even coffee is one of the best pleasures in life—not just because of the taste and alertness they provide, but because of the memories, we make around it. Millions of people around the world cannot start their day without an ample amount of caffeine. It may be relaxing and rejuvenating but anything excessive is detrimental to the health.

As a fertility consultant, I am often asked this question by my patients who are currently expecting that I am a coffee addict and I cannot quit caffeine and need at least five to six cups every day? My answer is extreme of anything is bad.

Avoiding excess caffeine is always recommended, especially when trying to conceive. Women who are pregnant or trying to conceive should be advised to avoid caffeine because the evidence suggests that maternal caffeine consumption is associated with negative pregnancy outcomes and that there is no safe level of consumption.

Why do we get addicted to caffeine so easily?

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant and is present in various food and beverages such as coffee, tea, chocolates, cocoa products, soft and energy drinks.

Not to mention, people get addicted to caffeine beverages as these help in mental alertness, boost energy and definitely help in mood elevation. But do you know that addiction to caffeine beverages can induce multiple side effects over time unless consumed in a controlled manner? These side effects are anxiety, insomnia, digestive issues, addiction, high blood pressure, increased heart rate and fatigue.

Does caffeine affect fertility?

Certain studies and researches have indicated, deterioration of health and fertility rates with caffeine utilization. A study published in 2017 expressed that a potential dose-related effect of caffeine was on the time to be pregnant for both couples, trying to conceive naturally and couples undergoing fertility treatment.

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They also looked at the risk of miscarriage based on how many milligrams of caffeine was consumed. The study result showed that drinking 300 mg of caffeine increased the risk of early pregnancy loss or spontaneous abortion, and drinking 600 mg of caffeine more than double the risk of miscarriage. Caffeine did not, however, impact the time it took for the couples trying to conceive naturally as well as for couples receiving fertility treatment.

caffeine side effects
Dosage matters when it comes to your daily cups of coffee. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Here is what you need to know if you’re trying to conceive:
  • Drinking caffeine decreases the chances of getting pregnant, especially in combination with many other fertility factors. It is said to decrease the ability of the body to balance reproductive hormones. It leaches minerals, vitamins and nutrients out of the body. It may increase the risk of miscarriages and increases the risk of low-birth-weight babies. It increases oxidative stress in sperms.
  • Semen quality, a predictor of male fertility, has been seen declining worldwide. Among other lifestyle factors, male caffeine consumption was hypothesized to influence not only semen parameters but also sperm DNA integrity. Caffeine intake, possibly leads to sperm DNA damage, may negatively affect male reproductive function.
  • Pregnant women have slower caffeine metabolism with 1.5 to 3.5 times longer half-life needed to eliminate caffeine compared to the non-pregnant women. This causes caffeine to be retained in the body longer, caffeine can then cross the placenta and be present in the plasma of the newborn. The immaturity of the fetus’ liver produces a lower level of enzymes necessary for caffeine metabolism and it leaves neonates at risk of adverse outcome including low birth weight.
  • Every additional 100 mg of caffeine intake during pregnancy is associated with a 3% increase in the odds of low birth weight.
  • Caffeine intake below the recommended levels (<200–300 mg/day), appears to have no serious effects on reproductive life. It is still advisable to avoid excessive caffeine intake for women and men who plan to conceive. It also recommended that pregnant women should not exceed 200 mg/day of caffeine intake.
In the end remember…

Caffeine is a stimulant, found in different amounts, in coffee, black and green tea, energy drinks, some soft drinks, and in chocolate. While there is no clear proof that caffeine affects the ability to become pregnant, but some studies have found that women who drink large amounts of caffeine may take longer to become pregnant and may have a higher risk of miscarriage. Some experts warn that high caffeine intake can increase the risk of miscarriage and low birth weight.

Eating smaller, more frequent meals will help in cutting down coffee as  that will keep your blood sugar raised — and, hence, your energy levels up. Prenatal vitamins will also help you maintain your stamina without a caffeine fix, as will regular exercise. It is important to note that a moderate amount of caffeine (200-300mg) will help in lowering its impact on one’s health, especially, for couples trying to conceive or carrying pregnancy.

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About the Author

Dr. Parul Agrawal is a senior fertility and IVF consultant at Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Noida ...Read More

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