Can Coffee Affect Your Reproductive System?

I can easily pinpoint my caffeine addiction to my first year of college, when I worked part-time as a barista at Starbucks. I distinctly remember going to my Starbucks at 8:00 a.m. and demanding that one of my coworkers serve me espresso after espresso while I crammed for my 10:00 class.

Since then, I’ve gone through phases of white chocolate mochas, skinny vanilla lattes (when I realized how many calories are in a WCM), energy drinks, caffeine pills, and, of course, a good ol’ cup o’ joe (or twenty). My caffeine tolerance is so high that I can finish sugar-free Monster, and be in bed, sleeping, an hour later. I’m pretty sure that’s not healthy.
I’m well aware of the health problems associated with caffeinated products– I’ll probably get tumors from my sugar-free energy drinks, and I’ve already suffered heart palpitations from Stackers energy pills, but that’s a whole different story. And now this; a new issue has for me to worry about. A recent study has suggested that too much coffee can decrease a woman’s chances of getting pregnant, at least for women already diagnosed with fertility problems.
Dutch researchers studied the natural pregnancy rates of 9,000 women who had undergone in vitro fertilization, and found that those who drank more than four cups of coffee a day reduced their chance to conceive by about 26%. Before you think you’re own caffeine habits may come back to haunt you once you’ve settled down and are ready to start a family, remember: this only applies to women who have already been identified as having fertility problems.
I think University of Sheffield professor Bill Ledger said it best when he explained, “A lot of women can have 20 cups of coffee a day and get pregnant while falling off a log, but if you’re already subfertile it could push you over the edge.” Furthermore, subfertile women who consume a “normal” caffeine intake of 300mg a day or less are still pretty safe. Still, I think these findings are important to keep in the back of our minds, ladies, because we might not realize we have fertility problems until we’re ready to pop out some babies.
Actually, many bad habits that are picked up in college can equally decrease a less-fertile lady’s chance of bringing a little bundle of joy into the world. Drinking alcohol at least three times a week (guilty!) is just as bad as excessive caffeine intake, and by smoking one or more cigarettes a day (guilty!) or being overweight (not guilty- phew!) reduced the chances of pregnancy even more.
Sure, I’m only twenty-something right now, but the researchers estimate that a 36-year-old woman who smoked, drank too much coffee and alcohol, was overweight, and had been through three cycles of IVF would have only a 5% chance of natural pregnancy.
Great. In a few years I’m going to have smoker’s cough, a failing liver, energy-drink induced tumors, AND probably be infertile. At least there’s always adoption.

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