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How caffeine makes it harder to get pregnant

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Caffeine and fertility

Researchers have discovered how coffee and other caffeinated drinks make it harder for women to get pregnant. University of Nevada School of Medicine scientists conducting the study found caffeine affects the Fallopian tubes that carry eggs from the ovary to the uterus or fertilization.

In their study, the researchers found caffeine makes it more difficult for eggs to move down the Fallopian tubes to the womb for impregnation.

Until now, it was assumed that cilia – microscopic hair like structures – combined with contractions in the Fallopian tubes help get eggs where they need to be.

But in the study, which was conducted in mice, the researcher found caffeine stops the action of so called pacemaker cells in the wall of the Fallopian tube that control the contractions that move the eggs to the womb.

Sean Ward, professor of physiology and cell biology, at the University of Nevada School of Medicine, who conducted the study said:

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Our experiments were conducted in mice, but this finding goes a long way towards explaining why drinking caffeinated drinks can reduce a woman's chance of becoming pregnant. Ward adds, "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.”

Ward adds the finding may offer an explanation as to why women with high caffeine consumption take longer to get pregnant than those who avoid caffeine.

The study also sheds light on how ectopic pregnancy occurs when the embryos develop outside the Fallopian tubes. The researchers believe they have potentially found the link between caffeine consumption and infertility in women. Women who drink caffeine are more trouble getting pregnant, compared to those who limit their intake.


British Journal of Pharmacology
"Inhibitory effect of caffeine on pacemaker activity in the oviduct is mediated by cAMP-regulated conductances"
Re Dixon, et al.
June 2011

Image credit: Morguefile