Who doesn't love sugary drinks? I stopped drinking soda years ago, but I still love gulping down those fancy Starbucks coffee beverages. I don't have a big sweet tooth, but I am a sucker for sugar-sweetened beverages every now-and-then. Turns out, though, they may not be so great for my reproductive health. That's because drinking sweetened drinks like soda might lower your chances of becoming pregnant, according to new research.
A new study published in the journal Epidemiology found that people who drink one or more sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda may have lower rates of fertility, according to The Economic Times. The researchers controlled for factors, including obesity, caffeine intake, alcohol, smoking, and overall diet, in order to reach their conclusion, The Economic Times reported.
In particular, researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine analyzed data from more than 3,800 women and more than 1,000 of their male partners and discovered a link between both female and male consumption of sugary drinks and a 20 percent dip in pregnancy probability during a single menstrual cycle, otherwise known as fecundability, according to The Economic Times. Separately, women who consumed at least one soda a day saw a 25 percent decrease in fecundability, while men saw a 33 percent drop.
The Boston University School of Medicine study isn't the first time scientists have found an association between soda consumption and fertility issues. Research published by the Federal University of Sao Paolo in 2016 found that people who consumed diet sodas and coffee made with artificial sweeteners, such as saccharin and sucralose, had lower rates of pregnancy overall, according to fitPregnancy. The study, which involved 524 women undergoing in-vitro fertilization treatments, also discovered a close link between poorer egg and embryo quality and sugar added to regular sodas and coffee beverages (you know, like that venti non-fat caramel macchiato I love to gulp down almost every evening), fitPregnancy reported.
Professor Adam Balen, chairman of the British Fertility Society, said of the 2016 findings, according to The Daily Telegraph,
This is a very interesting study that suggests the false promise of artificial sweeteners that are found in soft drinks and added to drinks, such as coffee, may have a significant effect on the quality and fertility of woman’s eggs and this may further impact on the chances of conception.
These findings are highly significant to our population. There should be more scrutiny of food additives and better information available to the public and, in particular, those wishing to conceive.
Some health experts, though, have been skeptical of this research. A spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, a professional trade group for U.K.-based dietitians, criticized the 2016 study's failure to separate the effect of artificial sugars and sweeteners from fertility outcomes impacted by body weight, according to The Daily Telegraph.
But research published a year after the Sao Paolo study found a link between artificial sweeteners and weight gain, suggesting that both may play an equal role in affecting fertility. A Canadian Medical Association Journal study found that, in an analysis of a decade's worth of research, artificial sweeteners didn't actually seem to help people drop pounds, according to TIME. Instead, people who drank one or more artificially-sweetened drinks faced a higher risk of weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease, among other issues.
In the end, what these studies suggest is that a better job needs to be done in educating people on the effects of sugar and artificial sweeteners on reproductive health. As someone who regularly consumes sweetened coffee, I know how hard it may be to drop the habit. But if you're a die-hard soda drinker, think of switching to alternatives like homemade lemon sparkling water, unsweetened green tea, or blending your own natural fruit juice.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.