If you’re anything like me, I cannot get through the day without my morning latte.
Some days I even need two if I’ve had a bad sleep or have a long day ahead of me!
But there are a lot of mixed messages out there in the media about caffeine (which by the way isn’t just found in coffee!) and your chances of conceiving.
Don’t stress, I’m here to help set the record straight (and as a coffee lover, I most definitely have your back when it comes to the coffee habit!)
Caffeine and the effect on fertility
I have written a blog about all things caffeine (head here to check it out!).
In a nutshell, caffeine is a compound that is found mainly in:
- Coffee beans
- Tea including black, green, matcha, oolong and white teas
- Chocolate or cocoa products
- Energy drinks
- Soft drinks or sodas, like cola.
It is a plant-based compound that stimulates the central nervous system to cause a burst in energy.
But how (if, at all) does it affect your chances of falling pregnant?
Currently, there isn’t a strong body of scientific evidence supporting the effects of caffeine on conception.
Some studies have found links between caffeine and reduced fertility, whereas others have found no links. Let’s dive into a few of these studies!
One study found that caffeine consumption has been linked to reduced estrogen levels which can prevent ovulation and reduce your chances of conceiving (Schliep et al., 2012).
Another study has found that interestingly, caffeine can affect the way the muscles in the fallopian tubes contract (Dixon et al., 2011). The study was done in mice, however, they found that caffeine can stop some of the cells lining the walls of the fallopian tubes from functioning properly, and as a result, it is harder for the embryo to be transferred from the fallopian tubes to the uterus.
This can help to explain why some women who consume a lot of caffeine can find it harder to fall pregnant quickly!
However, a recent meta-analysis (a really big study of a lot of literature!) found that there is not a strong association between caffeine consumption and fecundity (i.e. fertility), or time to pregnancy (Lyngs et al., 2017).
Large studies have shown NO strong association between caffeine and fertility
An Italian study looked at the link between caffeine and outcomes of IVF, and found that a moderate intake of caffeine (~200mg per day) had no effect on the outcome of IVF treatments (Ricci et al., 2018).
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A dietitian’s recommendations on caffeine for fertility
So, you and your partner have decided to start trying but you have a serious tea, coffee or soft drink habit and wondering what you have to get to? Then listen up!
The current research supports the advice, that is recommended by the World Health Organisation, that it is safe for women trying to conceive to consume up to 2 cups of coffee per day, or less than 200-300 mg of caffeine per day. This is to prevent any effects that the literature suggests may occur during conception.
So what does 200mg of caffeine look like in our day-to-day lives?
Count your caffeine
Get out your notepad (or notes section on your phone) and let’s work out how much caffeine you’re getting in your day!
- 1 shot of espresso (a regular flat white from your local coffee shop) has on average 90-120 mg of caffeine
- 1 teaspoon of instant coffee has about 60mg of caffeine
- 1 cup of percolated coffee has about 100-125 mg of caffeine
- Black tea has about 50 mg of caffeine
- Green tea has about 30 mg of caffeine
- 60g of milk or dark chocolate can have up to 40 mg of caffeine
- A 375ml can of coke has 30-40 mg of caffeine
- Energy drinks can have over 110 mg of caffeine
I try to discourage those last two whilst you’re trying to conceive, as we know that sugary drinks are not ideal for fertility anyway, and it appears that caffeine from energy drinks has a negative effect on sperm health too!
Instead, I suggest keeping up your morning latte on the way to work (it’s the simplest things in life!) or after the gym or with your girlfriends on the weekend and then having a cup of tea, or a couple of squares of chocolate after dinner.
Just remember, most large coffees (in Australia) have 1.5-2 shots of espresso, so if you’re opting for a large coffee try decaf black tea or some yoghurt with fruit as your sweet after-dinner treat.
Always check with your barista how many shots of espresso are used in the coffee you are ordering to stay on the safe side!
Don’t forget, decaf coffee is perfectly safe to consume when trying to conceive, as you would have to have more than 60 cups of decaf coffee per day to reach your limit as it averages about 5 mg of caffeine per cup of decaf!
Looking to wean yourself down with caffeine-containing drinks?
- Go slow to avoid caffeine withdrawals like headaches and fatigue, start by dropping one caffeinated drink out of your day for a week before reducing further.
- Hydrate with something else like water, a low-calorie probiotic fermented drink like kombucha or a cold infusion tea for something a little different.
- Make sure you are getting enough sleep, 7 hours is a minimum for most adults.
- Swap the afternoon coffee run with your colleagues for a quick stroll around the block
Got more questions about fertility nutrition that you need to be answered for you and your partner? Book in for a FREE 15 minute discovery call to deep-dive on your personal situation and devleop a tailored plan that works to help you conceive!
This blog was co-written by student dietitian Maddi Breen, you can connect with her on LinkedIn.