Will Coffee Hurt My Chances At Getting Pregnant?
People love their coffee. Coffee drinkers within the United States tend to drink over 3 cups of coffee every single day. For some, coffee almost feels like a lifeline, a necessity.
So when it comes to the question of coffee and your fertility, many women are curious if they need to cut down in order to make a baby.
Unfortunately, the answer is not super cut and dried. Studies on caffeine intake and fertility issues have been coming to different conclusions for years.
Together, you and I will wade through the scientific literature and hopefully come to a conclusion that helps you decide whether or not to cut back the caffeine for the sake of your fertility.
As you can probably imagine, the real problem being addressed in the question, “Will coffee hurt my chances of getting pregnant?” is actually, “Will caffeine hurt my chances at getting pregnant?”
Before we dive into what the studies say about its effect on fertility and pregnancy, let’s make sure we understand exactly what caffeine is and what it does to the body.
- Caffeine is labeled a “drug” because it acts as a stimulant to the central nervous system, which includes your heart and your muscles
- While caffeine provides no nutritional value, it can dehydrate you, cause irregular heartbeat or high blood pressure, increase anxiety, worsen irritable bowl syndrome, and flush out the body’s calcium
- To see exactly what caffeine does to your brain, here is a popular video that helps you understand:
Caffeine/Fertility Studies Through Time
What I have done below is summarize six studies/reports/literature reviews over the past 30 years on the topic of caffeine and fertility issues. As you will quickly see, there are very mixed messages:
#1: Caffeine = Not Good
Let’s start by going all the way back to 1988. This is when the idea that coffee being harmful for fertility really came into public knowledge. It said, “women who consumed more than the equivalent of one cup of coffee per day were half as likely to become pregnant per cycle as women who drank less.”
#2: Caffeine = Not Good
Then in the 1990s, five European countries (Denmark, Germany, Italy, Poland, and Spain) performed a “multicenter study on risk factors of infertility.” They found that higher levels of caffeine could slow down the time it takes fertile women to conceive and found “women in the highest level of consumption had an increase in the time leading to the first pregnancy of 11%.”
#3: Caffeine = Okay
Now we get to 2007 where a report comes out on a fertility study with 18,555 married women over the course of 8 years. They said their findings “do not support the hypothesis that alcohol and caffeine impair ovulation to the point of decreasing fertility.”
#4: Caffeine = Okay
Another 2007 study looked to see if smoking, alcohol, and caffeine negatively harmed “ovarian age.” While smoking was shown to have some negative effects, alcohol and caffeine were shown not to be “related to any ovarian age indicator.”
#5: Caffeine = Not Good
In 2013, a scientific literature review concluded that “lifestyle factors such as cigarette smoking, illicit drug use, and alcohol and caffeine consumption can negatively influence fertility” (emphasis added).
#6: Caffeine = Not Good
Finally, in 2016 a NIH study suggested a direct correlation between drinking coffee before conception and early miscarriage: “Both male and female consumption of more than two caffeinated beverages a day also was associated with an increased hazard ratio: 1.74 for females and 1.73 for males.”
Caffeine And Pregnancy
Other interesting studies to look at in this discussion are those examining caffeine consumption once you are already pregnant. As the American Pregnancy Association admits, these studies are conflicting as well.
Some studies show that drinking too much caffeine (200 mg or over) during pregnancy can cause miscarriage. Other studies show there is no increased risk of miscarriage as long as you drink under 350 mg.
For reference, one 12 oz. cup of coffee normally contains 200 mg of caffeine.
But what this really means is even if drinking coffee does not harm your fertility and you are able get pregnant, you will have to cut down your coffee intake anyway. After all, the average American’s 3 cups of coffee could easily bring you to 600 mg of caffeine.
So What Should You Do About Caffeine And Your Fertility?
While there is not one, single, hard-hitting study that definitively says “do not drink coffee if you want to conceive” there are plenty of reasons to consider ditching (or greatly reducing) your caffeine intake:
- Caffeine is not nutritious or healing in anyway, but it can cause harm
- Enough studies have at least suggested a negative correlation between caffeine and fertility to make the case for getting rid of coffee
- You will have to greatly reduce or eliminate your coffee intake if you get pregnant anyway, so stopping now is simply a head start
If you are choosing to go caffeine-free to up your chances of fertility, it is helpful to know how much caffeine is in other common products:
- Decaf coffee has between 2 and 12 mg of caffeine.
- Brewed black tea has between 25 and 48 mg of caffeine
- Brewed green tea has between 25 and 29 mg of caffeine
- Cola has between 24 and 46 mg of caffeine
- 1 cup of milk chocolate chips has 34 mg of caffeine
- 1 cup of peanut M&Ms has 17 mg of caffeine
- 1 bar of dark chocolate (162 g) has 70 mg of caffeine
Giving Up Your Coffee
Without a doubt, there have been women who have conceived with no problem while drinking their daily 3 cups of coffee. Maybe that will be you too.
But if fertility is a concern for you – or if you have been battling infertility for some time now – eliminating coffee becomes a “Why not?” At the very least, it will keep you hydrated and allow you to rest.
Take a few days to wean yourself off to help prevent headaches. Then replace your morning ritual with herbal tea or hot water and lemon.