Coffee and fertility – that age old question that never quite gets answered. When we first started IVF treatments I turned to Dr. Google to try to figure out if my daily coffee consumption could cause problems with conception. Unsurprisingly, my search churned out millions of contradictory results that ranged from confusing to downright weird (ever hear of vaginal coffee implants to improve fertility? Not quite how I like to take my morning coffee…)
Determined to find real, credible answers, I spent hours sifting through research about pregnancy, coffee, and IVF. Here are the most common myths I came across, along with the facts I needed to make an informed choice about the impact of coffee and fertility.
Myth #1: Drinking even a single cup of coffee can cause IVF treatments to fail
According to the results of an extensive academic literature review conducted in Denmark (where residents down an average of 1.46 cups of coffee daily) “No association was found between coffee/caffeine consumption and outcomes of fertility treatment,” disproving the myth that even one coffee a day causes problems with IVF treatments.
Unsurprisingly, researchers in Europe have discovered that women who drink six or more cups of coffee (or consuming the equivalent amount of caffeine) “were 50 percent less likely to become pregnant through IVF compared with women who did not drink coffee“. That’s over 1200mg of caffeine a day – yikes!
Myth #2: Men’s caffeine consumption doesn’t count
While guys usually get off easy when it comes to prepping for pregnancy, research into the relationship between IVF and coffee consumption out of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston suggests that “drinking too much coffee can radically reduce a man’s ability to father children“.
The study authors believe that caffeine might actually harm sperm on a molecular level, and that “those men who drank 265mg or more had the least chance of becoming fathers” while “the chance of having a child rose to nearly 52 percent” for men who drank less than a cup of java a day.
Myth #3: You should drink coffee during IVF
Adding to the confusion over coffee, IVF and pregnancy is the connection between caffeine and ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) – a condition that can impact about one out of every three women during IVF treatments.
Scientists at Middlesex University state that, “It may be that a cup of strong coffee with every IVF cycle could reduce the chances of OHSS“, however, two-thirds of women who take IFV treatments are unaffected by OHSS, which means this advice isn’t universal.
Myth #4: There’s a “right” and a “wrong” answer to the coffee and fertility question
When it comes to fertility, women try to do everything “right.” But unfortunately there’s just no cut and clear answer regarding safe levels of coffee consumption and its impact on overall fertility and pregnancy. Although the studies above outline the “wrong” thing to do (i.e. drink dangerously high levels of caffeine a day) whether or not you can consume a healthy amount of coffee while trying to conceive or while pregnant is simply a matter of comfort levels and personal choice.
The informal poll that I conducted on Instagram regarding the coffee question showed the following results: While the majority of respondents said “No” to drinking coffee when undergoing fertility treatments, the majority of respondents said “Yes” to drinking coffee during pregnancy.
Whether or not you choose to enjoy coffee while doing fertility treatments and throughout pregnancy is a matter of personal choice that warrants a conversation with your fertility doctor. If you do decide to consume, the World Health Organization recommends lowering daily caffeine intake to below 300 mg – that’s about the equivalent of a 12 oz cup of your favorite brew.
Coffee & Fertility: My Personal Take
As for me, I completely cut out coffee during my first few rounds of IVF treatments and embryo transfers. When those cycles weren’t successful, I decided to loosen my restrictions a bit and began drinking one cup a day during the last few rounds of treatments and transfers. In fact, the IVF cycle in which I conceived I was drinking one cup of coffee a day. My take? Save for better hydration and less stomach issues when not drinking coffee, I found that a safe level of daily coffee consumption holds no bearings on the final outcome of my fertility treatments. For my own comfort level, I also stopped drinking coffee during the first few weeks of my pregnancy, but then started drinking a cup (sometimes two) a day while pregnant and will do so for the duration.