This article discusses the link between coffee and fertility. This is because coffee is one of the most common sources of caffeine in our diet and there is a link between caffeine and fertility. We’ll look at that link between coffee and fertility and what you can do to reduce or eliminate coffee from your diet for the sake of your fertility.
Caffeine is known as trimethylxanthine, coffeine, theine, mateine, guaranine, methyltheobromine and 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine. It is a xanthine alkaloid found naturally in coffee beans, tea, kola nuts, Yerba mate, guarana berries, and in cacao beans. For the plant, caffeine acts as a natural pesticide since it paralyzes and kills some of the insects that try to feed on the plant.
Caffeine’s main actions on the body
– Stimulates the central nervous system and affects the mood.(makes you hyper-alert)
– Stimulates respiratory rate.(makes you breathe faster)
– Stimulates the heart rate. (makes your heart race)
– Has a mild diuretic effect. (makes you wee)
Caffeine and fertility
Caffeine is thought to act on the cells in the body by blocking the amino acid adenosine receptors. Adenosine, when bound to receptors of nerve cells, slows down nerve cell activity; this happens, also during sleep. The resulting increased nerve activity causes the release of adrenaline, which leads to effects such as a higher heart rate, increased blood pressure, increased blood flow to the muscles, decreased blood flow to the skin and inner organs, and a release of glucose by the liver. Also, caffeine has a similar action to amphetamines in that it increases levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in your brain.
Stress is very harmful for your fertility
Stress is health’s number one enemy. It ruins your digestive and immune system in the long run leaving your nutrient reserves empty. How does it do that? Stress causes an adrenaline release. This activates your brain and fires up your muscles for fight or flight. It’s fantastic for getting out of dangerous situations quickly, because once you escaped from the danger your adrenaline plummets and everything goes back to normal. But it’s terrible for sitting in your chair at the office staring at your IN –tray, wondering how in the world you are ever going to meet your deadline? That sort of stress doesn’t wear off as quickly and can lead to high blood pressure, digestive disorders, frequent colds and flu and an array of other conditions over the long run including infertility.
The effects of stress sound very similar to the effects of coffee and caffeine have on the body, including the effects of coffee and fertility. “The effects of coffee drinking are long-lasting and exaggerate the stress response both in terms of the body’s physiological response in blood pressure elevations and stress hormone levels, but it also magnifies a person’s perception of stress,” said James D. Lane, Ph.D., associate research professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke. “People haven’t really accepted the fact that there could be a health downside to caffeine consumption, but our evidence – and that of other studies – shows that this downside exists and people should be aware of it in order to make the best possible health choices.”
If you drink coffee your need for nutrients goes up
Because of it’s diuretic action (need to urinate more), coffee leaches key fertility nutrients out of the body. They are: Vitamin C, B Vitamins, Zinc, Calcium and Magnesium. These nutrients are crucial for optimal hormone production and activation as well as health development of the fetus. Imbalanced hormone levels can lead to ovulatory disorders, poor egg and sperm quality and miscarriage.
Coffee decreases fertility and increases miscarriage risk
A large study from Connecticut on coffee and fertility found that consuming as little as 1 cup of coffee per day increases the risk of not conceiving by 55%! And if you have 2-3 cups per day that risk rises to 100% and continues to increase with an additional cup up to 176%!
And did you know that women who drank coffee before and during pregnancy had twice the risk of miscarriage? A study on coffee and fertility found that 2-3 cups of coffee a day doubles the risk of miscarriage.
Coffee can cross the placenta and enter your baby’s circulation
The issue of coffee and fertility here, is that since the baby is still developing, his or her organs have not been completed. The baby’s organs can not cope with doses of caffeine in adult drinks, leading to cellular damage, organ damage, retarded growth, low-weigh babies, premature birth and over-active nervous system in the baby. The baby is already predisposed to heart problems (irregular heartbeat, fast heartbeat and other heart rhythm disorders), and nervous system disorders such as anxiety at birth as a result of exposure to caffeine in-utero.
Too much coffee
Too much caffeine can lead to caffeine intoxication. The symptoms are restlessness, nervousness, excitement, insomnia, flushed face, diuresis (increased urge to wee), digestive complaints and hallucinations. They can occur in some people after as little as 250 mg per day or two standard cups of coffee (one standard cup of coffee contains approximately 150 mg of caffeine). More than 1,000 mg per day may result in muscle twitching, rambling flow of thought and speech, cardiac arrhythmia or tachycardia (irregular or fast heart beat), and psychomotor agitation (restless leg, eye twiching, or some other excessive muscular activity triggered by stressful thoughts). Caffeine intoxication can lead to symptoms similar to panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.
The withdrawal effects
Continued consumption of caffeine can lead to tolerance. Upon withdrawal, your body becomes oversensitive to adenosine, causing your blood pressure to drop dramatically, leading to headache and other negative symptoms. Any accumulated sleep debt will be fully felt on withdrawal as well.
What to do?
To prevent the effects of the relationship between coffee and fertility you must simply stop drinking coffee. But you also need to stop drinking other caffeinated drinks such as colas, energy drinks, black and green tea and replace them with fresh filtered water, herbal teas, fresh pressed fruit juices and coffee substitutes at least 120 days before conception. However don’t use de-caff coffee as the chemicals used to filter caffeine out are even more toxic to your egg and sperm health. Your health food shop will have many options to coffee and de-caf coffee to chose from.
How to do it?
If you drink more than one cup of coffee per day start progressively cutting down by one cup a day until you are only drinking one cup of a day. Then start making your daily coffee weaker every day. When you are down to 1/4 of a teaspoon stop altogether. For the next three days you’ll probably be a little bit cranky, headachy, sleepy and craving coffee, this is normal and nothing to worry about. It may be easiest to stop over the weekend, drink plenty of water, shop for a coffee substitute, get some rest and catch up on your sleep, go for walks in the nature and drink home-made lemonade with fresh organic lemons and honey. The lemon taste can help stop you from craving coffee and the vitamin C and bioflavonoids will speed up your recovery. By Monday you’ll physically be over your coffee addiction by the 21st day after stopping coffee your psychological addiction will have gone as well, and from then on you can avoid problems associated with coffee and fertility.
I know that you can reduce or eliminate your consumption of coffee. Do it for the sake of your fertility, your baby and your general health!
Iva Keene is co-founder and director of Natural-Fertility-Prescription.com. She has been a qualified, accredited Naturopathic Physician for over 13 years, holds a Bachelor's degree in Health Science and a Masters degree in Reproductive Medicine. Since founding NFP in 2008, Iva's articles, videos, guides and reports have reached over 1.3 million people. Iva has dedicated her professional life to supporting couples on their path to parenthood with scientifically grounded information, protocols and coaching around preconception care, natural infertility treatments and integrative reproductive health.