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Posted by on Jan 20, 2015 in Chinese Medicine, Fertility | 6 comments

Are Coffee And Alcohol Really That Bad For Your Fertility?

Are Coffee And Alcohol Really That Bad For Your Fertility?


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.

Let me explain. No, there is too much, let me sum up. (Name that movie!)

Did you know:

  • Any alcohol consumed during an IVF cycle reduces its chance of success by 50%.
  • Coffee constricts blood vessels while tea opens them. In order to ensure optimal functioning of a woman’s reproductive organs, there must be adequate blood flow. 


Having said that, I wholeheartedly agree with one of my favorite mentors, Dr. Libby Weaver, who accurately explains, “It’s not what you do once in awhile, it’s what you do everyday that makes a difference in your health.”

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


1-3 cups of coffee or 1-3 glasses of wine per month is what I would consider “once in awhile” and very low risk to your fertility.

If you are drinking more than that, consider asking yourself these questions:

  • How many glasses 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 on one or both? That’s a good sign that it’s necessary to do so.
  • What is a glass of wine or 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, and plays a crucial role in women’s fertility.

When our cycle goes smoothly, i.e. no cramps, no mood swings, no breast tenderness, moderate flow of deep red blood for 3-5 days with no clots and little spotting, that 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.

Enter coffee and alcohol, usually the first self-medicating solution we are drawn to. (Our cravings are so smart.)

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, causing more PMS symptoms and potentially leading to fertility issues.

From a western medicine perspective, coffee and alcohol are considered “liver loaders,” which 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 effect the proper estrogen balance in the body, potentially leading to compromised fertility.

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.

If you’re interested in becoming your own fertility expert to get pregnant, join me and our lovely community of women from around the world for my super effective and popular Fertile Woman 21-Day Online Event. Click here for details.


Cheers to your fertility! <3

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  1. Loved reading this Josie and I really couldn’t agree more. My husband and I ended up doing 3 IVF rounds and did not conceive until the third round…the one that I decided to cut out coffee and alcohol with!

    • Wow! Isn’t that amazing? I’m so happy that you had a successful round! Thank you for reading and sharing. XO

  2. Thanks for the insight Josie. I’ve been a regular coffee drinker for years, averaging 4-5 cups per week and am 38 years old. In the last 6 months, I’ve switched to organic water filtered decaf and have cut down to about 3-4 cups per week. If trying to keep everything healthy and balanced for fertility, how much organic decaf coffee cups per week would be safe? Aside from the decaf coffee, I consume about 1-2 alcohol beverages per week, usually wine. Additionally, I eat very healthy, including lots of organic greens and drinks lots of filtered water (no chlorine).

    • Hi Melissa! Thank you so much for your comment and for reading my blog. I’m glad it was useful to you. You’ve done a fantastic job switching to organic water filtered decaf, your body will definitely thank you. As far as how much will negatively effect your fertility, it depends on every individual woman. If you’re having lots of signs of what we call Liver Qi Stagnation in Chinese medicine, like cramps, breast tenderness, menstrual blood clots, irregular cycle, unable to take a deep breathe or frequent sighing, headaches or migraines, red or irritated eyes, insomnia especially between 1-3am, high stress levels, etc., then it’s possible that your liver needs as much help as possible. In which case, I would cut down to 3-4 cups of decaf per month, instead of per week. If you have a regular period (every 29-31 days) with no pain, no clots, medium blood flow, deep red in color lasting 3-5 days, very low stress levels, sleep well, etc., then I’d say you’re doing just fine with your current 3-4 cups per week. I hope that helps! XO

  3. Chinese here, grew up hearing people say alcohol harms the liver qi and it is extremely important that women avoid it during periods, pregnancy, and the first few months after giving birth. Thanks Josie for explaining the why so well!

    • You’re so welcome! Thanks for reading. 🙂

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