Your Coffee-Drinking Habits and Your Hormones

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Do you remember that song goes “Owo ni kan lo’le se oh” meaning, money is the only answer? Sometimes, it is exactly like that when it comes to coffee. It is only caffeine that can do the magic.

I lived on a caffeine-high for most of my undergraduate days, up until a few years ago, when I consciously stopped, because I didn’t want to live like that again.  Before I gave up coffee, I noticed that a cup lived in my system for more than 24 hours.  I was unable to nap, never mind have a restful sleep, because I was high. I was also easily irritated.

Lest I forget, coffee also acted like ibuprofen on my body. Should I ever take coffee, even just two days to the arrival of the witch, it would not come. I will feel the cramps but the witch would not show up, because the caffeine was in my blood stream.  It would just be spotting galore. Sometimes, the witch showed up full bleed days later, sometimes, it never did, leading to irregular cycles.

Since, I stopped my do-or-die relationship with coffee, I really feel better.

Recently, I met an acquaintance, who had actually been advised to stop drinking coffee because of symptoms that were far worse than mine, and since she wasn’t even married or thinking of having a baby, then it was better if she said goodbye to her coffee-drinking habits.

We met during a women’s seminar, where out of the over 1o women present, just the two of us opted for tea, instead of coffee. Mind you, tea also contains caffeine, the addictive chemical in coffee, but it is in smaller quantity.

“It’s so hard to not drink coffee, when I can literally smell it in the air,” Ajoke complained, as she sipped her weak tea, “but better this tea than coffee oh.”

Ajoke began noticing an increasing rate of hormonal changes about a year ago, but refused to pay attention until she went for a random pap smear and more gynaecological issues came up, which made her realise she had not been paying so much attention to her health.

Symptoms like an absent period, vaginal dryness and terrible cystic acne were the order of the day for her.  Doing a review of her daily routine, her doctor begged her to cut out coffee, or at least reduce it, amongst other lifestyle changes she was asked to do.

It was a tough call but if she wanted a better quality of life, then she had better start working on them, and so far, Ajoke has been doing good.  But is she in the all –clear? Nah, but then the damage wasn’t done in one day.

Coffee, the bad guy

Apart from the obvious culprit in coffee, which is caffeine, the acid in it has also been found to have a damaging effect on the neuroendocrine immune system over time. The neuroendocrine immune system refers to the processes and structures that form the human central nervous systems, the hormonal systems, and immune systems, all of which are linked in complex relationships.

Studies have shown that excessive coffee intake may shorten a woman’s menstrual cycle, making it fewer days between periods. This was one symptom I experienced. In the case of Ajoke, her period simply stopped.

Other studies showed that caffeine can worsen PMS symptoms and it may also affect menstrual flow, due to the effect it has on your blood vessels, leading to constriction. When I stumbled upon this part of the study, my eyes popped. What had happened to me had been right there in the medical journal for years. Ignorance is indeed a disease.

On the hormonal level, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition threw up a study, which showed that coffee interacts with oestrogen in a way that can lead to hormone-related issues.

Coffee’s interaction with oestrogen often leads to the dominance of the hormone, which can mean one of two things: either you have too much oestrogen in relation to progesterone, or an imbalance in the oestrogen metabolites (some are protective and some are dangerous).

PMS, lumpy breasts, heavy periods, cellulite and even breast cancer (which is dependent on oestrogen) can be symptoms of oestrogen dominance.

Oestrogen is especially problematic for people with thyroid conditions. High oestrogen levels (also known as oestrogen dominance) rise thyroid binding globulin, making less thyroid hormone available for the body.

With all these less than wonky consequences, it is almost expected that coffee drinking will have an impact on pregnancy, and it does. Scientists have found that drinking three or more caffeinated beverages a day raised the risk of early pregnancy loss by 74 percent. And that statistic applies whether the caffeine is consumed before or after conception. (This isn’t just critical info for women: Caffeine consumption in male partners was associated just as much with pregnancy loss.) That alone is enough reason to give up on coffee.


Coffee, the good guy

Even with all the dreary impacts of coffee on human health, some scientists have found out that people who drink coffee are more likely to live longer.


Drinking coffee was associated with a lower risk of death due to heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and respiratory and kidney disease in people of different races, found the study. And it didn’t matter whether they drank regular or decaffeinated coffee.


Now what?

With the different revelations about coffee and its impact on hormones, it might not be a bad idea to actively be thinking of reviewing your relationship. At the very least, reduce it, look up substitutes like green tea and some fruits, which can give you the same kick as coffee…but without the side effects.

Food for thought.




Join the conversation with any of our TTC and Pregnancy Groups here


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