Sylvia likes her coffee. She can easily drink several cups a day. A friend said the other day, “Hey aren’t you trying to conceive? You know you shouldn’t drink so much coffee, don’t you?” Sylvia actually did not know this, and now has to face making some changes in her daily habits. And she had been priding herself on paying attention to good nutrition.
Caffeine is not only in coffee, but tea, soft drinks, energy drinks, chocolate and various coffee flavored foods. It is in common over-the-counter medications for headache, pain relief, colds and allergies. It is even in some herbal products.
Can Caffeine Affect My Most Fertile Days?
Yes, it certainly can. Caffeine can affect your ability to get pregnant, and even more than that it can affect your pregnancy.
- Delayed Conception. Studies show if you consume >300 mg of caffeine per day, you are 2 times more likely to have conception delayed for a year or more.
- Increased Estrogen. As little as 100 mg of caffeine can raise your estrogen levels above normal. Hormone balance is critical to having healthy signs of fertility on your most fertile days.
- Miscarriage. >200 mg/day of caffeine increases your risk of miscarriage.
- Sleep. Caffeine can interfere with your sleep, which can have a large effect on your fertility. Adequate and restful sleep is critical to the balance of your hormones.
- Pregnancy. Caffeine consumption is associated with having a low birth weight baby and a baby with birth defects. Stop using caffeine because you want to get pregnant sooner, and protect your baby too.
The man also needs to pay attention. Caffeine has been shown to cause a low sperm count and affect the prostate.
How much caffeine are you getting every day? You will have to start looking more closely, as there is a huge variation. A typical 8 oz cup of drip-brewed coffee has 184 mg, restaurant coffee 350 mg, and a shot of Expresso 100 mg. Chocolate has 10-50 mg per 2 ounces.
80% of Americans are hooked on caffeine. But it is definitely not a benign substance. What should you know?
- It is an addictive, psychoactive, stimulant drug that alters your state of mind
- It is a poison, and must be detoxified by the liver
- Coffee also contains pesticide residues, nitrosamines, solvents, and mycotoxins, all of which have their own health risks
- It can take 3 weeks, and up to 60 days to see the full benefit of eliminating caffeine
People often drink coffee for more energy and mental clarity. This is a vicious cycle, because it stimulates you for a short period of time, then you crash even further. In reality, if coffee is used more than once per week it causes fatigue, mood swings, decreased mental clarity, poor memory and a whole host of possible other problems.
How can you avoid the dreaded withdrawal headache? Other withdrawal symptoms can include depression, fatigue, irritability, muscle tension, feeling disoriented, and even nausea and vomiting. And you thought you coincidentally got the flu the day you stopped caffeine.
Avoid these withdrawal symptoms by cutting back slowly, reducing your caffeine intake by one half each week. And begin to implement healthy lifestyle choices to help heal the reasons you felt you needed the caffeine to begin with. Eat more nutritious foods. Get enough sleep, ideally being asleep by 10pm (for your adrenals) and getting at least 8 hours/night. Manage your stress levels and have a positive attitude.
Try drinking Raspberry Leaf tea as one of your new beverages. It is a natural and healthy herbal fertility tea that nourishes your reproductive system. It is delicious and caffeine-free.
To Your Vibrant Health!
Veronica Tilden, DO