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The Horrifying Side Effect of Drinking Too Much Coffee

You won't believe what too much coffee can potentially inhibit.
drinking coffee

Some people claim they cannot function without their morning cup (or two or three) of coffee, however, for women who are trying to become pregnant, this regular routine may prevent conception.

This is not to say there aren't several potential health benefits of drinking coffee, though. For example, research suggests that the antioxidants in coffee can reduce chronic inflammation in the body, which could prevent conditions such as diabetes, allergies, and cardiovascular disease.

Still, drinking the beverage in excessive amounts is also believed to inhibit a woman's chances of getting pregnant, or even worse, increase the likelihood of having a miscarriage. Excessive caffeine consumption is often described as more than 200 milligrams, which is more than two cups of coffee.

"No actual method has been elucidated as to why excessive caffeine consumption has been shown to reduce fertility," says Gil Weiss, M.D., OB/GYN Partner at Association for Women's Healthcare. What we do know, however, is that caffeine readily crosses the placenta, the organ that provides oxygen and vital nutrients to the baby.

"Some suggested theories as to how excessive caffeine consumption may impact fertility include the possibility that caffeine can impact cell development or alter uterine or early placental blood flow," Weiss says.

This alteration in blood flow is what's believed to be a contributing factor in miscarriages. A 2017 study explored the association between caffeine consumption and fertility and found that consuming 300 milligrams of caffeine, or a little over three cups of coffee, each day increased the risk of early pregnancy loss or spontaneous abortion. Women who drank twice that amount doubled their risk of having a miscarriage.

Weiss also says that drinking too much caffeine during pregnancy can also contribute to insomnia and even worsen heartburn. However, limiting the number of caffeinated beverages you drink each day may not affect fertility at all.

"Most experts agree that consuming less than 200 milligrams of caffeine should not have any impact on fertility," says Weiss.

Here is how much caffeine is in some of your favorite foods and beverages:

  • Chocolate Milk (8 oz): 8 milligrams
  • Dark Chocolate (1.45 oz bar): 30 milligrams
  • Green Tea (6 oz): 40 milligrams
  • Coke (16 oz): 45 milligrams
  • Espresso (1 oz): 55 milligrams
  • Brewed coffee (8 oz): 100 milligrams
  • 5 Hour Energy Drink (2 oz): 200 milligrams

To learn about more potential warning signs of drinking too much caffeine, read up on 5 Side Effects of Drinking Too Much Coffee.

Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the news editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and drink coverage, and breaking down the science behind the latest health studies and information. Read more
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