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Does caffeine affect fertility, ability to conceive and pregnancy?

This is a common question amongst couples wanting to conceive. Our culture has changed to such a degree that many don’t start looking at making babies until their thirties and even forties, so it’s even more important to consider how your diet affect fertility – and that includes caffeine.

At the end of the day, caffeine is a nervous system stimulant and can affects other organ systems of the body as well as being responsible for a rise in heart rate and blood pressure, revving  up metabolism and increasing urine formation.

But, what about caffeine’s effect on fertility and the ability to conceive?

First of all, the studies here are not conclusive and we believe that a lot more research needs to be done before we can be really sure about caffeine’s effect on fertility.

Several studies have shown that caffeine can increase the length of time it takes to conceive. One study showed that women who drank more than one cup of coffee a day were half as likely to become pregnant per cycle as compared to women who consumed less. Decaffeinated coffee does not affect the ability to conceive.

Another study in patients undergoing IVF treatment demonstrated that women who consumed even modest amounts of caffeine (50 mg) were likely to have decreased live birth rates. While the exact mechanism by which caffeine affects fertility is unknown, the answer may be related to the ability of caffeine to influence the quality of the developing oocyte (egg). Preliminary studies in mice and monkeys suggest caffeine inhibits oocyte maturation. An immature oocyte does not fertilize and therefore is unable to produce a pregnancy.

It is already well known that it’s prudent to avoid or control caffeine consumption when pregnant. Some women drink decaf coffee to help with this. Multiple studies have suggested that caffeine consumption can increase the risk of miscarriage. Women consuming greater than 200 mg of caffeine per day had twice the miscarriage rate (25.5%) as compared to nonusers (12.5%). To put that into perspective, a standard cappuccino will have about 150mg of caffeine. In addition, pregnant women may be more sensitive to caffeine as it is metabolized or broken down slower during pregnancy. Caffeine can also cross the placenta and directly affect the developing baby.

With most studies indicating that the effects of caffeine are related to amount of caffeine consumed, it would seem prudent for women contemplating pregnancy to limit caffeine consumption.

Women who consume large amounts of caffeinated beverages should taper their caffeine intake gradually to avoid withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, irritability, restlessness and nausea.

Swiss Water Decaf coffee can of course help with weaning yourself off caffeine as well as switching to decaf during pregnancy and beyond. We’re currently in the throes of a caffeine epidemic, so it would be wise to reboot your caffeine intake after pregnancy and decaf coffee can be a health substitute for the real thing.

For more information, check out our FAQ on Decaf & Conception, Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

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