When we think of caffeine, most of us would associate it with coffee. However, caffeine can also be found in many other beverages such as tea and colas. Caffeine is a plant based alkaloid that is efficient in stimulating the nervous system once it is ingested or consumed by the body. Naturally, plants use this compound in order to serve as a protection from insects and other pests. The caffeine causes these insects to collapse due to its over stimulating side effects. Caffeine or otherwise known as guaranine, mateine or theine is also considered a psychoactive drug. This however, is not classified as a controlled drug, which is why the presence of it in beverages like teas, sodas and coffees are considered legal. Nevertheless, it is the coffee beans that contain the highest amount of caffeine compared to other plants like yerba mate or tea leaves. Nowadays, millions of people all over the world can consume more than a cup of coffee every day. This increase in consumption has led to the discoveries of many adverse or untoward side effects of caffeine in the body. One of its known effects is its possible affectation to fertility. So is there a relationship between caffeine and fertility?
What is fertility?
Fertility is the term used to describe a person’s ability to conceive a baby. Once we are considered infertile, we already lose the ability to create or produce a viable conception. Infertility can be caused by many factors such as problems in structure of the reproductive system or due to the effects of certain diseases.
Studies on Caffeine and Fertility
Although fertility problems are more likely associated with anatomical or physical abnormalities, diet and food can also be related to this kind of problem. Some recent studies have concluded that increase consumption of caffeinated drinks and edibles can also lead to the possible occurrence of infertility. Nevertheless, these results and conclusions are still being experimented even up to now. In one of the reported studies about the effects of caffeine in the body (Hatch and Bracken 1993), the intake of more than the moderate amount of caffeine can actually decrease the chances of conception up to 27%. This is compared to women who have decreased consumption of caffeine in their diet. The moderate amount of caffeine is measured to 2 cups of coffee or 4 cups of tea or 5 cans of cola a day. This measurement can produce up to 200 milligrams of caffeine. In addition to these findings, the study has also found out that low or modest consumption of caffeinated drinks can still hinder the chances of conceiving by up to 10 %.
On the other hand, some studies have also different results or outcomes with regards to the relationship of fertility and caffeine. One particular study has obtained a result that shows the improvement of conception per cycle in drinking half a cup of tea while getting no effects in drinking other caffeinated beverages (Caan et al 1998). Another research has also resulted to the increased chances of conception by taking in 400 to 700 mg of caffeine a day compared to those without any consumption at all. However, the study has also proven than going beyond the 700 mg limit can already hinder or prolong the possibility of conceiving. Another experiment has also concluded that no effects on conceiving are possible with intakes that are less than 200 mg a day (Jansen et all 1998). As we can clearly see, the results obtained by these studies and experiments are somewhat contradictory to each other. So which one should we believe in?
After conducting all these studies and researches, the Organization of Teratology Information Services or OTIS, which is based in the US and Canada, has concluded that a consumption of low to moderate amount of caffeine (less the 200 mg per day) can cause no effects or reduction to the chances of conception. However, once infertility treatment is being received, then caffeine reduction must be done.
Nevertheless, it is still better to adapt healthy lifestyle changes in order to assure that the maximum chances of having a successful conception are obtained. This includes the reduction of any known substances that could hinder fertility such as too much intake of caffeine. Aside from this, regular check up from our resident doctor is also recommended in order to monitor the status of health particularly in reproduction.
Breaking away from the usual habit of drinking too much coffee or beverages that contain high caffeine content is a hard thing to do especially for some people. This can cause withdrawal symptoms such as headache. However, doing this gradually can still help lower down the body’s attachment to caffeine thus allowing easier detachment from caffeine.
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