Caffeine reduces muscle activity in the Fallopian tubes that carry eggs from a woman's ovaries to her womb, say medicos from the University of Nevada School of Medicine.
"Our experiments were conducted in mice, but this finding goes a long way towards explaining why drinking caffeinated drinks can reduce a woman's chance of becoming pregnant," says Sean Ward, who conducted the study.
Scientists know little about how eggs move through the muscular Fallopian tubes. It was generally assumed that tiny hair-like projections, called cilia, in the lining of the tubes, waft eggs along assisted by muscle contractions in the tube walls.
By studying tubes from mice, Ward and his team discovered that caffeine stops the actions of specialized cells in the wall of the tubes. These cells coordinate tube contractions so that when they are inhibited, eggs can't move down the tubes.
"This provides an intriguing explanation as to why women with high caffeine consumption often take longer to conceive than women who do not consume caffeine," said Ward. "As well as potentially helping women who are finding it difficult to get pregnant, a better understanding of the way Fallopian tubes work will help doctors treat pelvic inflammation and sexually-transmitted disease more successfully."
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Source: University of Nevada School of Medicine