Sorry to break it to you : the caffeine habit has to go entirely if you are trying to conceive.
Especially if you have been trying unsuccessfully for a while, are a little older or if you are going through IVF or IUI.
No safe level of caffeine has been proven for fertility or pregnancy, for men or women.
Caffeine consumption is linked to infertility and delayed pregnancies
Large amounts of caffeine (two cups of coffee a day) are clearly linked to reduced fertility, especially in cases of tubal disease and endometriosis.
But did you know that as little as as one cup of coffee a day is linked to increases in cycles until conception ?
One study showed that women who consumed as little as one cup of coffee a day were half as likely to become pregnant per cycle, when compared to those who drank less.
Caffeine decreases the success rates of IVF and IUI for both men and women
For women All the women in the study who got pregnant stopped caffeine completely as soon as they had a positive test. The striking results showed that just 50 mg of regular caffeine (about half a cup of coffee or one cup of tea) before transfer led to 3 TIMES fewer live births.
For women who reported “regular caffeine intake” : 0-2mg per day, there was a 43% live birth rate, 2-50 mg per day, there was a 22% live birth rate, more than 50 mg per day, there was a 14% live birth rate.
For men, the conclusion is the same. Most studies looking at sperm quality show that it only takes 3 cups of coffee daily to really negatively impact the swimmers. Similarly to females, IVF studies show that the lower the male intake the higher the chances of success
Why risk it?
Caffeine increases the risks of miscarriage
The research is pretty clear that 200 mg or more of caffeine intake during pregnancy means double the risk of miscarriage.
Further, the same research says that “an increasing dose of daily caffeine intake during pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of miscarriage, compared with no caffeine intake.”
Coffee is often heavily processed and full of toxins
If you are going to drink coffee (which we do NOT recommend), make it organic for sure.
Caffeine from the perspective of Chinese medicine
Caffeine is basically borrowed energy, that depletes tomorrow's reserve for a temporary boost of fire today. Caffeine taxes the adrenals. It gives you ups and downs, highs and then crashes, and it just tires your body out. It is very addictive and habit forming.
Coffee is also very hot in nature, and as a diuretic in can be quite drying. A lot of women going through fertility treatments already suffer from what Chinese medicine calls Yin deficiency, which is a deficiency in fluids. We can see how a drying and hot substance would be harmful.
Alternatives to caffeinated drinks
My patients often ask me if it is ok to drink tea instead. The answer is NO. Here is a chart with precise caffeine levels in many drinks.
There are plenty of caffeine free beverages that taste close to coffee, and some herbal teas actually show benefits for fertility.
Chicory root drinks
Dandelion root drinks
A study found that "rooibos tea significantly improved sperm concentration, viability and motility which is beneficial for male fertility and might be attributed to its high level of antioxidants". According to another animal study published in the SA Journal of Botany, Rooibos improved the overall health of the uterus, endometrial lining and ovaries.
So give this a try!
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