What should you give up – or take up – to get pregnant?

images-12Yet more new advice about what to do to improve your fertility… We know that too much caffeine isn’t good for us, but should you give it up entirely if you are trying to have a baby? It’s often women who try to cut back but a new study from the States suggests that male caffeine consumption has an impact on the chances of IVF success – those who drank more coffee (and what constitutes more I’ve seen described as three cups in one place and one mug in another!) were only half as likely to have a positive outcome. Perhaps slightly unexpectedly, when it came to alcohol, drinking seemed to improve rather than reduce the chances of success for men. The study results suggest that men who drink around three units are more likely to have a successful outcome than those who don’t drink at all. Meanwhile, another group of researchers looking at diet and male fertility found that being vegan or vegetarian was linked with lower sperm counts.

So, yet more advice – yet more to do, or not to do. What makes it difficult is that it can seem that the advice changes from week to week – and is often contradictory. At the end of the day, perhaps it’s best to think along the lines of moderation in all things…


Caffeine and fertility

Taza_de_caféThe evidence about caffeine and fertility hasn’t always been clear – the most recent NICE fertility guideline says that people who are concerned about their fertility “should be informed that there is no consistent evidence of an association between consumption of caffeinated beverages (tea, coffee and colas) and fertility problems”, but then goes on to say that “maternal caffeine consumption has adverse effects on the success rates of assisted reproduction procedures, including IVF treatment”.  So it’s OK if you’re trying naturally, but not if you’re using IVF.

I’ve always felt that moderation is probably key here – one cup of coffee in the morning is unlikely to do any damage – but a serious ten-a-day espresso habit is something you ought to address. Personally, I’ve been a bit of a coffee addict since I was a student, and working at home I’ve found myself using the making of cups of tea and coffee as an excuse to escape my laptop for five minutes – without really being aware of it, my caffeine consumption was gradually creeping up to an almost hourly boost.

It wasn’t until I decided to cut out caffeine apart from my breakfast cup of coffee that I realised quite how much impact it was having. I’d thought waking up throughout the night was just one of those things you had to live with, but in the last couple of weeks, I’ve been amazed to find I can go to bed, fall asleep and not wake up until the morning – I know it may sound ridiculous, but for me, it’s quite a revelation…

It has made me think in a slightly different way about caffeine and fertility. Regardless of whether there’s clear evidence that it has an impact on your chances of getting pregnant, drinking loads of tea and coffee or cola when you’re trying to conceive may have an impact on your wider sense of wellbeing. In moderation, it’s fine  – but in my own experience, it’s easy not to realise quite how much caffeine you are consuming or quite what an impact it is having. Your body needs sleep and taking steps to reduce excess caffeine consumption will be good for you – I can’t tell you how much better I feel after a few weeks of proper sleep!