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The Effects of Caffeine on Fertility
In our latte-loving, Diet Coke-addicted, on-the-go society, caffeine is the world’s most popular pick-me-up drug of choice and the lifestyle factor that may be the hardest to give up when you’re trying to get pregnant. But research has shown that caffeine can affect your fertility and is linked to miscarriages. Here’s what you should know about caffeine and your ability to get pregnant.
Research on Caffeine and Fertility
In the most recent research, Sean Ward, a University of Nevada School of Medicine scientist, found that caffeine reduces muscle activity in the fallopian tubes, which carry eggs from a woman’s ovaries to her uterus. The study, which was published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, investigated the fallopian tubes of mice and discovered that caffeine stops the actions of specialized pacemaker cells in the wall of the tubes. These cells coordinate tube contractions — when the cells are inhibited, the eggs can't move down the tubes.
"This provides an intriguing explanation as to why women with high caffeine consumption often take longer to conceive than women who do not consume caffeine," Ward said.
Older studies in humans have also demonstrated caffeine’s effect on fertility. For example, a Yale University School of Medicine study from the early 1980s of 1,900 women found that the risk of infertility was 55 percent higher for those women who drank just one cup of coffee per day. The risk was 100 percent higher for women who drank 1.5 to three cups, and it was 176 percent higher for those who drank more than three cups of coffee per day.
Consuming caffeine during pregnancy is also related to miscarriage, especially in early trimester pregnancies. A 2008 study by the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research found that women who consumed 200 mg or more caffeine each day (two or more cups of regular coffee) were twice as likely to have a miscarriage as women who consumed no caffeine. Women who consumed less than 200 mg of caffeine a day had a 40 percent increased risk.
How Much Caffeine Do You Consume?
Caffeine is considered the most commonly used psychoactive drug in the world, with approximately 90 percent of adults consuming it on a daily basis, mostly by drining coffee, soda and tea. According to the March of Dimes, the average daily caffeine consumption among Americans is about 280 mg per day, with 20 to 30 percent consuming more than 600 mg daily.
How does your daily consumption stack up? Here are some common drinks and their caffeine counts, according to the March of Dimes:
- 8 oz cup of brewed coffee: 137 mg
- Tea: 48 mg
- Soft Drinks: 37 mg
Caffeine in Moderation
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), three 8 oz. cups of coffee per day is considered an average or moderate amount of caffeine, while ten 8 oz. cups of coffee per day is considered excessive intake of caffeine. Most fertility experts say moderate caffeine consumption is OK when trying to get pregnant. The most conservative guidelines recommend consuming 50 mg or less of caffeine each day, while other guidelines say up to 300 mg is OK.
When you are trying to get pregnant, the best thing to do is talk to your doctor in depth about your caffeine consumption, the research on caffeine and fertility, and the steps that you should take to get your body in the best shape for pregnancy.