Effects of Alcohol and Caffeine on Fertility
One of the reasons why many lovebirds tie the knot is to have their own kids. This means that if couples cannot have children, they are often unhappy. The inability to have children among married people is often due to infertility. In some cases, infertility threatens the foundation of marriages. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 6% of married women aged between 15 and 44 years in the US are unable to get pregnant after 12 months of having constant unprotected sexual intercourse. The stats better paint a picture of the number of married people who are probably unhappy in their unions. Although numerous factors cause infertility in both male and female, this article will focus on the effects of alcohol and caffeine on fertility.
Effects of Alcohol on Fertility
Health experts have always warned that heavy drinking has an adverse effect on our health. The question now becomes, what amount of alcohol is considered excess? For men, these experts consider heavy drinking to be about 15 or more drinks per week. However, the appropriate gauge is 8 or more drinks per week. When men drink within or above that range, their sperm tends to bear the brunt. In the long run, heavy drinking affects their fertility.
In men, heavy drinking:
- Lowers testosterone levels and raises estrogen levels. In turn, this decreases sperm production
- Can change the shapes and movement of healthy sperm cells
- Shrinks the testes – something that leads to impotence or infertility
- Affects gonadotropin, which affects sperm production
- Results in early ejaculation or decrease in ejaculation.
Like in men, alcohol significantly lowers the odds of females getting pregnant.
In one study, researchers concluded that heavy alcohol use affects women by:
- Interrupting menstrual cycles
- Altering the levels of estradiol, luteinizing, and testosterone hormones
- Changing the function of the ovaries (anovulation).
While boozing may have other adverse effects on females, those are its key impact on them.
Effects of Caffeine on Fertility
For a better understanding, caffeine is a natural stimulant found in tea, coffee, soft and energy drinks, and cacao plants. When consumed, it stimulates the brain and central nervous system, helping you stay alert and avert fatigue. In other words, many people take it because it helps them stay awake by connecting the brain’s adenosine receptors without having any negative effects on them. It also increases blood adrenaline levels and boosts the brain’s activity. Another way to look at caffeine is that it often travels to the liver, and body breaks it down into compounds that affect the functions of organs.
Studies have shown that 80% of the world’s population consumes caffeinated products every day. With over 90% of adults in North America consuming the stimulant, it is crystal clear that its use is common on the continent. Despite that, many reports suggest a complicated relationship between caffeine and female infertility. However, one 1988 report painted a worrisome picture of the connection between them. According to the study, drinking more than one equivalent of caffeine in one cup of coffee (roughly 85 mg) reduces a woman’s chances of getting pregnant by 50%. Apart from that study, no other report has supported this claim.
On the other hand, some studies have demonstrated the relationship between caffeine and male infertility. In summary, the researchers noted that it is okay to drink a few cups of coffee or tea per day. However, when you drink 4 – 6 cups of coffee per day (400 mg), it can significantly lower your sperm count. Another factor that affects sperm quality is regular doses of caffeine in high amounts.
TCM Principle of Healthy Living for Improved Fertility
Essentially, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) factors in the energetic content of food and how it affects overall body balance. TCM focuses on creating an internal environment where the blood and energy (Qi) flow seamlessly in the body. When you eat the right diet, it nourishes your body. This, TCM practitioners believe, increases your chances of taking in. On the flipside, lack of nourishment leads to light menstrual flow. To address this problem, you must eat more of organic foods, vegetables, and fruits.
You see, TCM principles hold that the fruits we consume receive energy from the sun. As you already know, the energy helps the plant to grow and it is further passed on to you when you consume the food. But then, the moment the crop is processed, it loses its energetic content in the industrial process. A good example is an ear of corn that traps sunlight to enable it to grow (photosynthesis). When the corn is industrially processed into cornflakes, the corn gives up the energy. Therefore, traditional Chinese medicine (Chinese herbal) experts encourage people to consume organic foods. This is similar to Western medicine where nutritionists recommend the consumption of organic foods to avoid pesticides and other agricultural chemicals that can harm our hormones.
In this article, you have learned the effects of alcohol and caffeine on fertility – among men and women. Health specialists often advise men not to consume alcohol for at least six months before fertilization for sound baby’s heart. Likewise, women should avoid it for 12 months if they are really serious about having a baby with free heart defects. Moving on, 200 mg of caffeine intake every day cannot cause infertility in men and women. At this juncture, you know the TCM position on nutrition and fertility. In a nutshell, couples who wish to have their bundle of joy should moderate caffeine and stop boozing.
Looking at the connection between TCM and nutrition as it relates to fertility, there is no denying the fact that eating exclusively organic foods can be expensive. However, keeping your diets largely organic will go a long way toward helping improve your chances of getting pregnant. Just to save the best for the last, TCM principle encourages couples who wish to have babies to eat more of 3 categories of TCM foods as detailed below:
- Yin (Cooling) food: Apple, banana, barley, broccoli, crab, cucumber, etc.
- Yang (warming) food: Basil, walnut, cherry, chestnut, coconut, kale, ginger, vinegar, etc.
- Neutral (Neither Cool or Warm): Asparagus, beets, bison, cabbage, carp, carrots, etc.
While moderating your consumption of alcohol and caffeine, it is advisable to combine the three categories of TCM foods (as highlighted above) with acupuncture and regular exercises. To learn more about how all this works, please feel free to contact our specialists now.
- Reproductive Health (Infertility): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/infertility/index.htm.
- Ghoshal M. Does alcohol kill sperms? And other fertility facts. https://www.healthline.com/health/does-alcohol-kill-sperm-2. Revised June 20, 2019. Accessed January 4, 2022.
- Newman T. How much influence does alcohol have on female fertility? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/312629. Revised September 1, 2016. Accessed January 2, 2022.
Petre A. What is caffeine, and is it good or bad for health? https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-is-caffeine#:~:text=Caffeine%20consumption%20is%20generally%20considered,individuals%20(54%2C%2055%20). Revised June 3, 2020. Accessed January 2, 2022