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Heavy Caffeine Consumption Can Reduce IVF Success, Study

by Leigh Ann Woodruff, July 3, 2012

A new Danish study finds that drinking five more more cups of coffee per day may cut the chances of in vitro fertilization (IVF) success in half, which is comparable to the harmful effects of smoking, according to the researchers.

The research by Fertility Clinic of Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark was presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. The researchers say they were surprised by how much of an effect caffeine had.

The study was performed in a large public IVF clinic on 3,959 women having IVF or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) as fertility treatment. The scientists gathered Information on coffee consumption at the beginning of treatment and at the start of each subsequent cycle. They controlled for variables such as age, smoking habits, alcohol consumption, cause of infertility, female body mass index, ovarian stimulation and number of embryos retrieved.

Drinking five or more cups of coffee a day reduced the clinical pregnancy rate by 50 percent and the live birth rate by 40 percent. There was no effect observed when the patients reported coffee consumption of less than five cups.

Other studies have found that caffeine has an effect on fertility. For example, a University of Nevada study found that caffeine reduces muscle activity in the fallopian tubes of mice, and 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. 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. However, a 2009 Cochrane review found there was insufficient evidence to confirm or deny the effect of "caffeine avoidance" on pregnancy outcome.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), drinking three 8 oz. cups of coffee per day is considered an average or moderate amount of caffeine. NIH considers an excessive intake as 10 cups. With this new study, it might be advisable to reduce that amount to under five cups of coffee per day if undergoing IVF.


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