Is there a link between coffee, tea and your fertility? Yes and no!

Some studies show that prolonged consumption of caffeine may delay conception, but others have a totally different take on the matter.

By Dr Radhika Rani Akkineni

According to the Indian Society of Assisted Reproduction, infertility affects almost 14 per cent of the nation’s population or nearly 27.5 million couples, with higher rates in the urban area where one out of six couples is affected.

There are numerous reasons why couples face infertility, including lifestyle choices, medical conditions, genetic disorders, etc. But, did you know your morning cuppa could also play a major role in affecting your fertility? Today, it has become a tradition to enjoy a warm cup of tea or coffee as soon as you are up. For some men and women, it is next to impossible to face the day without a strong dose of caffeine. But, is it really so damaging that you may have to give up your source of comfort? What does the research say?

Caffeine is generally found in coffee, tea, several aerated drinks, and even chocolates. Some studies show that prolonged consumption of caffeine may delay the conception time and have an adverse effect on the developing health of the foetus. It is also said to alter the hormonal levels, affecting ovulation and functioning of the “corpus luteum” (a hormone-secreting body).

However, there are a few studies with a totally different take on the matter. These studies are said to have found a positive relationship between caffeine and conception. But unfortunately, the results are inconsistent with no concrete evidence.

All the concern surrounding caffeine started in the year 1988 after a report published by a study stating that, “women who drank about half a cup of coffee were half as likely to conceive”. Despite the report being incoherent, it did give birth to various other studies. However, none of them were able to find such a severe effect on fertility from caffeine consumption.

But, then came one of the largest researches ever conducted on this subject, which included over 3,000 women, where the researchers tried to find the relation between caffeine and fertility. The Denmark study found that:

* Women who drank over 300 mg of caffeine every day (300 mg is more than a cup of coffee) had the same fertility rates as the women who drank less than 100 mg to zero caffeine per day.

* Women who drank more than two teacups of tea per day had slightly higher rates of fertility than women who drank no tea.

* Women who consumed soda had slightly lesser fertility rates when compared to women who consumed zero soda. Also, women who consumed about three servings of soda every day had very inferior fertility rates when compared to women who drank just one serving of soda.

So, based on this result, should you drink more tea? Is soda the enemy? How much is too much?

Reproductive endocrinologists say that consuming about 200 mg of caffeine is acceptable. Although the research shows no connection between caffeine and male fertility, even in women, it has not established a negative impact. And, most studies have concluded that 200 mg of caffeine every day is all right, and the experts agree too. Hence, you don’t have to bid goodbye to your morning cup of steaming hot coffee just yet and you can consume it without any unwarranted guilt.

(The writer is an infertility specialist at Apollo Fertility, Kondapure, Hyderabad.)

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