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Female coffee drinkers at risk of reduced fertility

By Kieran Ball - 26 May 2011 11:11:1 GMT
Female coffee drinkers at risk of reduced fertility

A new study shows that women should consider giving up coffee to maximise their chances of getting pregnant. The report, in the British Journal of Pharmacology, focuses on research from the University of Nevada School of Medicine indicating that caffeine inhibits the movement of eggs along the fallopian tubes, reducing the chance of conception.

By studying mice, Professor Sean Ward's team found that caffeine inhibited the actions of specialised cells along the walls of the fallopian tubes that help carry the eggs from the ovaries to the uterus. The researcher found that caffeine affected the action of 'pacemaker' cells, slowing the transit of eggs.

Professor Ward believes that this may explain why women who drink caffeinated drinks, such as coffee and cola, may have trouble becoming pregnant:

''This provides an intriguing explanation as to why people with high caffeine consumption can often take longer to conceive than women who do not consume caffeine.''

The professor went on to say that caffeine' effect on muscle activity within the fallopian tubes occurs ''in concentrations well within what people are drinking''.

Professor Ward's work is the latest in a number of studies that has linked caffeine to reduced fertility. A few years ago, Ronald Gray, a professor at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researched the connection between caffeine and fertility and showed that women who consumed more than 300mg of caffeine each day (the equivalent of two average cups of coffee) decreased their chance of becoming pregnant by about 27% compared to those who did not drink caffeinated drinks.

Ward suggests that the research could further our understanding of the mechanisms at work within the fallopian tubes and help research into ectopic pregnancies – a painful condition where embryos become implanted in the fallopian tubes:

''As well as potentially helping women who are finding it difficult to get pregnant, a better understanding of the way fallopian tubes work will help doctors treat pelvic inflammation and sexually transmitted disease more successfully.''

Caffeine is thought to be the most frequently ingested pharmacologically active substance in the world today.

Top Image Credit: © S Hagebusch