Is Coffee Bad for PCOS? The Truth About How Caffeine Affects Your Hormones
You’ve mastered the perfect cup of coffee at home – it’s a lifestyle. You fill your French press with ethically sourced beans ground fresh this morning. Fire the kettle to 210 degrees and get the work of art started.
As you cozy up with your morning cup, the latest headline makes you reconsider. Another article to kill the joy of one of life’s simple pleasures… sigh.
There’s plenty of research suggesting the potential harms of coffee… and plenty about its benefits. So is coffee bad for PCOS? Here’s what you should know.
How are PCOS and Caffeine Related?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is an endocrine condition. The endocrine system is made up of glands and organs that release hormones. The hormones have roles that support different functions in the body.
In PCOS, hormone imbalances impact the functions they are meant to carry out. PCOS affects: 
- Insulin, which controls blood sugar
- Sex hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone
- Metabolism, or the way your body makes energy
- Cortisol, the stress hormone
Caffeine is a natural stimulant. It wakes up signaling pathways that may already be working overtime due to PCOS. Coffee can affect hormones too. Find out how caffeinated coffee affects PCOS – good or bad.
Pros of Caffeine for PCOS
What makes you look forward to a cup of coffee? Is it the smell that fills your kitchen and gets you going for the day? Or is it the mental alertness you need to get through a night shift? There are plenty of health benefits drinking coffee brings you..
1. Reduces Diabetes Risk
A study found that drinking caffeinated coffee reduces the risk of diabetes. It may enhance glucose tolerance in regular coffee drinkers, and in PCOS coffee drinkers this is a welcomed bonus.
Glucose tolerance is how well your body responds to sugar in the blood. Normally, insulin is released to lower glucose. In PCOS the body makes insulin but doesn’t respond to it, and this insulin resistance increases the risk of diabetes. 
2. It’s Good for Your Heart
The American Heart Association says coffee is good for your heart – in moderation. A study found that drinking coffee regularly lowered the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) for women. 
CHD is caused by hardened arteries. The coronary arteries supply the heart with blood, and obstructed blood flow causes heart attacks. The arteries can become blocked with plaque from high cholesterol or blood fats. Smoking and chronic inflammation also cause hardened arteries.
PCOS increases the risk for CHD because insulin resistance can lead to chronic inflammation. This wears on the heart and vascular system. Circling back to the glucose tolerance study, lowering insulin resistance with your regular cup of joe may be good for your heart.
3. It’s Packed with Antioxidants
PCOS increases the risk of chronic inflammation. Antioxidants counter inflammation by reducing its effects on the body. Coffee is rich in polyphenols, the little compounds also found in dark fruit like cherries and blueberries that combat oxidative stress in the body. 
4. Improves Mood
Do you feel perky after a cup of coffee? It’s not just the jolt of energy – coffee is a known mood-improver. This is beneficial for people with PCOS, who are at risk for depression.
Drinking coffee may also boost your performance during a workout, and exercise is one of the best therapies for PCOS. It helps to correct insulin resistance, manage weight, and prevent depression. 
Cons of Caffeine Intake for PCOS
Coffee brings so many people joy, but it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. With PCOS, everyday activities can give you an adrenaline rush. Adding coffee may be too much for your active adrenal glands. Here’s what the research says about PCOS and caffeine.
1. May Affect Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance is at the center of many problems in PCOS. Inositol, a naturally occurring sugar in the body, improves insulin sensitivity. A study found regular coffee intake can deplete inositol stores.  If you’re a coffee drinker with PCOS, consider taking inositol supplementation.
2. Disrupts Sleep
Everyone benefits from a good night's rest, especially if you have PCOS. Solid sleep gives your nervous system a chance to relax and reset. A regular sleep schedule allows your hormones to regulate.
Sleep also improves your mental well-being – reducing the risk of anxiety and depression. If caffeine is affecting your sleep, listen to your body. You may need to cut back to one cup a day or have your last cup at least 6 hours before bedtime.
3. Increases Stress in the Body
Women with PCOS may have overactive adrenal glands. The adrenals are part of the endocrine system and regulate: 
- Immune response
- Blood pressure
The adrenal glands secrete the stress hormone cortisol. Coffee triggers a similar stress response in your body, which makes more cortisol.
For the average person, a jolt from a cup of coffee isn’t a big deal. Your body can go back to rest after the energy boost. But for people with PCOS, it may take longer to rest and recover. 
4. Promotes Sugar and Dairy Intake
On a scale of 1-10, how much do you love a caramel latte? If you’re no stranger to the coffee shop drive-through, take a word of caution. Specialty coffee drinks are packed with sugar and dairy – two potential agitators for PCOS.
They both cause inflammation – which is why dairy-free and low-glycemic diets are beneficial for PCOS. Cutting cow’s milk may improve acne, and cutting refined sugar lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes. Next time you’re at the coffee shop, consider swapping the specialty drink for a nondairy option or order a black coffee.
Caffeine And Fertility
A study looked at the connection between caffeine consumption and fertility. There was no evidence to suggest caffeine consumption decreases the ability to get pregnant. However, results showed high amounts of caffeine intake (more than 300 mg per day) increase the risk of miscarriage. 
How To Reduce Coffee Consumption?
A standard cup of coffee has 95 mg of caffeine – and the FDA says 400 mg per day is safe. 
But if caffeine affects your PCOS symptoms, it may be time to scale back.
You can reduce your daily coffee intake by:
- Cutting down to one cup a day
- Switching to half-caff
- Starting your day with hot tea or lemon water
Another way to boost your energy is to exercise first thing in the morning. Afterward, reward yourself with a post-workout hormone-balancing smoothie. Double-boost it with S’moo Ovary Good, an all-natural hormone-balance supplement.
You can still enjoy your daily cup with some modifications. Drinking coffee black is the best way to go for PCOS. If you need a little flavor, try a plant-based or sugar-free creamer. You can also try adaptogenic mushroom drinks like mud water for a PCOS coffee alternative.
What to Do if You’re a Coffee Lover With PCOS
PCOS and caffeine are a big part of your life – and they may be able to coexist. Before you toss out those perfectly roasted whole beans, ask yourself how they’re impacting your life.
If everyday stress has you feeling jittery before coffee, it may be time to switch to an alternative. But if a cup a day is enough to boost your mood, have at it. Listen to your body to know how caffeine affects your PCOS symptoms.
*The content in this article is provided for informational purposes only. This is not intended to prevent, diagnose, treat, or cure any health conditions. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice or consultation. Talk to your doctor before making changes to your healthcare regimen.
- Overview of the endocrine system
- The Glucose Intolerance Induced by Caffeinated Coffee Ingestion Is Less Pronounced than That Due to Alkaloid Caffeine in Men
- Is coffee good for you or not?
- Identification of the 100 richest dietary sources of polyphenols: an application of the Phenol-Explorer database
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome–Related Depression in Adolescent Girls: A Review
- Myo-inositol for insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, polycystic ovary syndrome and gestational diabetes
- Adrenal glands
- Cortisol responses to mental stress, exercise, and meals following caffeine intake in men and women
- Association between coffee or caffeine consumption and fecundity and fertility: a systematic review and dose–response meta-analysis