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Fertility and Coffee. Friends or foes?

One of the most common phrases I hear from my patients is, “As soon as I get pregnant I will stop drinking coffee and alcohol.”

The trouble with that strategy is that the pregnancy may never happen if the liver is compromised.

Did you know that coffee constricts blood vessels while tea opens them? In order to ensure the optimal functioning of a woman’s reproductive organs, there must be adequate blood flow.

“It’s not what you do once in a while, it’s what you do every day that makes a difference in your health.” Dr. Libby Weaver.

 So how much coffee can you have without compromising your fertility?

1-3 cups of coffee per MONTH is what I would consider “once in a while” and a very low risk to your fertility.
If you are drinking more than that, consider asking yourself these questions:

  • How many cups does it take for you to feel buzzed? Is that number slowly increasing?
  • Do you feel like it would be very hard to cut down? That’s a good sign that it’s necessary to do so.
  • What is a cup of coffee giving you that you can get some other way?

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine point of view, our Liver Qi is responsible for orchestrating the menstrual cycle. It also plays a crucial role in women’s fertility.

When our cycle goes smoothly, there are no cramps, no mood swings, no breast tenderness. There is a moderate flow of deep red blood for 3-5 days with no clots, and little spotting, which means our Liver Qi is healthy and balanced. (And, yes, that’s possible!)

Unfortunately, most women experience the opposite of the period described above. This is a sign that your Liver Qi is stuck and needs some help to flow more smoothly.

Coffee and alcohol temporarily relieve stress and make us feel better. Or as we say, “smooths out the Liver Qi.” However, in the long run, these temporary salves can cause more Liver Qi Stagnation which makes us crave more alcohol and more coffee. It can then cause more PMS symptoms and potentially lead to fertility issues.

From a western medicine perspective, coffee and alcohol are considered “liver loaders”. That means they are processed in the liver and too much of either one can compromise the liver’s healthy functioning.

Interestingly, estrogen, one of the most important women’s fertility hormone, is made and eliminated from the body via the liver. So, you can imagine, if the liver is working overtime to process coffee and alcohol, that this will affect the proper estrogen balance in the body, potentially leading to compromised fertility.

 How to substitute?

Here are some healthy alternatives to get your liver and your fertility back on track:

  • Teeccino, a wonderful coffee-like substitute made with chicory root which is high in potassium, giving you a natural energy boost that also promotes bowel movements, just like coffee! And I love the rich taste.
  • Green tea actually helps to smooth the Liver Qi, from a Chinese Medicine perspective, and the small amount of caffeine can help you with the transition from coffee.
  • Swiss water process decaf coffee is much healthier than other decaf coffee made via toxic chemical processes.
  • Pomegranate juice and sparkling water in a wine glass is a wonderful substitute to fill that void in your hand when socializing or enjoying dinner.
  • De-stressing or “me” time rituals like journaling, taking a bath, meditation, yoga, reading a good book, going out with friends, making a cup of tea, or getting a massage can all help to satisfy the feeling we’re looking for when we reach for our most loved vice.

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