Caffeine Intake and Semen Quality in a Population of 2,554 Young Danish Men

Tina Kold Jensen; Shanna H. Swan; Niels E. Skakkebæk; Sanne Rasmussen; Niels Jørgensen


Am J Epidemiol. 2010;171(8):883-891. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


The authors examined the association between semen quality and caffeine intake among 2,554 young Danish men recruited when they were examined to determine their fitness for military service in 2001–2005. The men delivered a semen sample and answered a questionnaire including information about caffeine intake from various sources, from which total caffeine intake was calculated. Moderate caffeine and cola intakes (101–800 mg/day and ≤14 0.5-L bottles of cola/week) compared with low intake (≤100 mg/day, no cola intake) were not associated with semen quality. High cola (>14 0.5-L bottles/week) and/or caffeine (>800 mg/day) intake was associated with reduced sperm concentration and total sperm count, although only significant for cola. High-intake cola drinkers had an adjusted sperm concentration and total sperm count of 40 mill/mL (95% confidence interval (CI): 32, 51) and 121 mill (95% CI: 92, 160), respectively, compared with 56 mill/mL (95% CI: 50, 64) and 181 mill (95% CI: 156, 210) in non-cola-drinkers, which could not be attributed to the caffeine they consumed because it was <140 mg/day. Therefore, the authors cannot exclude the possibility of a threshold above which cola, and possibly caffeine, negatively affects semen quality. Alternatively, the less healthy lifestyle of these men may explain these findings.


Intake of caffeine (1,3,7-trimethylxanthine) (found in coffee, tea, chocolate, and some soft drinks, particularly cola-containing beverages[1,2]) is high in the industrialized world, and consumption of cola, in particular, has been increasing among children and young adults. Caffeine intake has been associated with increased risk of spontaneous abortions,[1,2] and some studies have reported a decrease in female fertility with increasing caffeine consumption,[3,4] although both these associations remain controversial. No effect on male fertility has been found.[5–7]

Previous studies on caffeine intake and semen quality have been contradictory.[8–13] However, they have been performed among highly selected groups of either infertile men[9,10,12,13] or fertile men undergoing vasectomy.[11] A recent Danish study found some reduction in semen quality among men exposed to maternal caffeine in utero, whereas, in the same study, current caffeine intake had no impact on semen quality, although it was associated with an increase in serum testosterone.[7] To our knowledge, no previous studies have investigated associations between semen quality and caffeine intake from multiple sources. Therefore, we investigated these associations in a cross-sectional study among Danish young men from the general population.