Diet and Fertility

According to a study from Harvard Medical School, eating certain foods and avoiding others is something manageable that can be done to help improve ovulatory function.

There are more than six million women in the United States who suffer from infertility. For eight years the Harvard study followed 17,544 married nurses without any history of infertility as they tried to become or became pregnant. The research found that by changing five or more aspects of their diet (and exercise) habits, women with irregular or absent ovulation, which is responsible for eighteen to thirty percent of infertility cases, reduced their risk of infertility by eighty percent. (Resource: Fit Pregnancy).

Other studies have been done regarding both men and women, and how diets affects those who are overweight and even those who are slim. The Harvard School of Public Health and Massachusetts General Hospital examined the impact on fertility rates of high trans fat intake in 141 men trying to conceive through IVF. Trans fats are found primarily in commercial baked and snack foods, animal products, french fries, and some margarines. They found that fertilization rates were lowest in couples where men had diets highest in trans fat. Men with the best diets had eighty three percent chance of getting their partner pregnant, compared to forty seven percent for those with the worst diets. (Resource: The Telegraph)

Overall the advice is consistent that those men and women who are over the weight threshold should make efforts to reduce their weight. Men and women who are slim, but do not have a balanced and healthy diet, should make adjustments to their diet to transition to a healthy diet for your body to be its most efficient. It’s become very evident in recent years and multiple research studies that you shouldn’t focus on only a woman’s weight, diet, and exercise in matters of fertility.

Some general recommendations on changes in diet are:

1. Eat more complex carbs and limit highly processed ones – good carbs contain fiber such as fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains
2. Avoid all trans fats and eat more healthy unsaturated fats
3. Get more protein from plant based foods like beans and less from red meat – plat proteins include beans, nuts, seeds, and tofu
4. Consume one or two servings a day of whole milk or other full-fat dairy foods, such as yogurt, and less non- and low-fat dairy
5. Take a daily multivitamin that contains at least 400 micrograms of folic acid and 40 to 80 milligrams or iron
6. Drink coffee, tea, and alcohol in moderation, and avoid sugary drinks entirely
7. Keep your weight in the “Fertility Zone”: A BMI of 18.5 to 24
8. Exercise 30 to 60 minutes daily for weight management

(Resource: Fit Pregnancy)

As you can see for yourself from this list, nothing is out of the ordinary from general diet and exercise plans you may have received from your primary care physician over the years. These items are all things that can be done throughout your life to keep your body healthy and performing to the utmost of its capabilities. Fertility advice such as this comes from the general sense that your body needs and wants to be healthy and running efficiently in order to produce a child. This is for both women and men. It’s not every day that you think about your sperm count or egg production, but that’s all happening within our bodies on a regular basis. Diet and exercise is a lifetime commitment to be healthy, for anything your body needs to do or overcome.