Is there any connection between food and fertility?
Resource inner page top image

If you are trying to conceive, you might wonder how your diet impacts fertility. This topic is gaining attention among clinicians due to the rising interest in wellness. Beyond trends and myths, there are connections between your food and fertility. Let us dive into this.

Does Your Diet Influence Fertility, and Can Foods Boost Fertility?

There is still much to learn about the link between food and fertility. Food alone cannot cause structural issues like blocked fallopian tubes or uterine abnormalities. Certain foods can positively or negatively affect your hormonal balance.

Optimising your lifestyle is crucial for better fertility outcomes, whether you are aiming for natural conception or assisted reproduction. Lifestyle optimisation involves the following aspects:

  • Maintaining a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI)
  • Staying hydrated
  • Engaging in regular moderate exercise
  • Limiting caffeine and alcohol intake
  • Quitting smoking
  • Managing stress, getting adequate sleep
  • Avoiding exposure to toxins
  • Understanding your menstrual cycle and fertility.

These factors, combined with good nutrition, should form the cornerstone of preconception planning, alongside regular sexual activity.

A comprehensive review published in The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in 2018 highlighted a few findings regarding food and fertility:

  • Higher doses of folic acid supplements (beyond the standard levels used to prevent neural tube defects) can significantly reduce the risk of miscarriage and improve outcomes in fertility treatments. 
  • Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids enhance female fertility, although further research is needed to understand the risks associated with contaminants like mercury in fish.
  • Consuming red meat might negatively impact fertility, but more research is required to confirm this.
  • Soy products seem beneficial for women undergoing fertility treatments.
  • Trans fatty acids in processed foods like frozen pizzas, cakes, and fried items are associated with reduced fertility.
  • Adopting a healthy eating pattern (focusing on seafood, poultry, whole grains, fruits and vegetables) has consistently shown positive effects on female fertility and male semen quality.

Can I Check My Fertility at Home?

Some high street brands are now offering home fertility tests for women, which can give indications of things like AMH and progesterone levels. But is this a good idea? The convenience of obtaining quick answers at home might tempt many women.

These at-home tests cannot offer true peace of mind because the results lack context, not to mention the detailed scans required to rule out most fertility issues. That is why we recommend undergoing fertility tests in London. The sooner you understand your fertility profile, the closer you can achieve conception.

What Should I Eat?

Wondering what foods can support fertility based on current scientific knowledge? Here are some tips to guide your diet:

  • Incorporate oily fish like salmon and sardines (low in mercury) into your meals at least twice weekly to boost your omega-3 intake.
  • Snack on nuts and seeds such as walnuts and flaxseeds, rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a crucial dietary fat for omega-3 production.
  • Focus on consuming more vegetables than fruits, as fruits contain natural sugars that can impact hormonal balance. Aim for more than just ‘5 a day’ as a baseline.
  • Prioritise organic fruits and vegetables when possible. Non-organic produce often undergoes pesticide treatment that contains hormone-disrupting chemicals.
  • Substitute red meat with organic, free-range poultry to avoid potential exposure to antibiotics used in battery-farmed poultry.
  • If undergoing fertility treatments, consider including soya in your diet.
  • Invest in a high-quality folic acid supplement. Consult your fertility specialist for the appropriate dosage.
  • Opt for whole grains over refined carbohydrates. Swap white bread for brown rice, choose oats instead of sugary cereals, and experiment with quinoa.
  • Choose whole foods whenever possible – products with just one ingredient.

How Different Diets Affect Fertility?

Various diets can significantly influence fertility outcomes. One notable example is the Mediterranean diet, which has demonstrated a 40% increase in successful pregnancies among couples undergoing IVF treatment. This diet is particularly beneficial for supporting ovulation in women and improving sperm motility in men. The Mediterranean diet involves plant-derived foods, oily seafood, low-fat dairy and poultry, olive oil and wholegrain products. Conversely, it requires reducing intake of simple sugars, red meat, and alcohol. Notably, adhering to the Mediterranean diet has been linked to reduced risks of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and other chronic illnesses.

On the other hand, the Western diet has shown adverse effects on fertility. This diet can increase oxidative stress, leading to carbohydrate metabolism and insulin resistance disturbances, which impact reproductive health. Further, gluten-free diets can impact fertility outcomes due to their lower nutritional value compared to traditional diets.

What’s Involved in a Fertility Test for Couples?

When couples choose a gynaecologist in London for fertility testing, the process typically includes several key components. These encompass a consultation, transvaginal ultrasound scan (TVS), saline hysterography (SIS), also known as aqua scan, egg counting blood test for anti-mullerian hormone and semen analysis.

Semen analysis is a straightforward, non-invasive procedure. Initially, the male partner provides a semen sample at the clinic. Subsequently, the laboratory closely examines the semen to evaluate its overall composition, sperm count, and the morphology and motility of the sperm cells.

This testing process provides valuable insights into the couple’s fertility health, aiding in assessing any underlying issues. If you and your partner are considering fertility testing, book an appointment with a healthcare professional to discuss your options and next steps.

Best Foods to Avoid for Boosting Fertility

When you’re trying to conceive, the impact of diet on fertility is significant. While scientific research is ongoing, specific food choices may influence your chances of getting pregnant. Here are some foods to steer clear of:

  • Cut down on red meat: Reducing your intake of red meat is advisable. Choose leaner protein sources like poultry, fish, or plant-based proteins to support fertility.
  • Avoid processed foods with additives and preservatives: Processed foods often contain harmful additives and preservatives. Select fresh, whole foods instead of those with lengthy ingredient lists.
  • Steer clear of microwave plastics: Microwaving food in plastic containers can cause chemicals to leech into your food, impacting fertility. 
  • Reduce simple carbohydrates: Foods like white bread can cause insulin spikes, which may disrupt hormonal balance and ovulation. Research suggests that cutting down on carbohydrates can help regulate insulin levels and improve fertility, especially in women with conditions like PCOS.

Boost Your Fertility with These Essential Supplements

Supporting your fertility through dietary supplements can be beneficial, but it’s crucial to consult your fertility doctor first. Here are some supplements known to enhance the normal functioning of your reproductive system:

  1. Folic Acid: Reduces the risk of neural tube defects and spina bifida.
  2. Vitamin D: Improves egg and embryo quality, enhances implantation and conception likelihood, and helps improve insulin sensitivity in PCOS.
  3. Coenzyme Q10: Plays a role in energy production and acts as a powerful antioxidant, potentially enhancing egg quality.
  4. Inositol (Myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol): Noteworthy for its positive impact on PCOS by improving insulin sensitivity, regulating menstrual cycles, and promoting ovulation.
  5. Acetylcysteine (NAC): Combats inflammation and oxidative stress, effectively improving insulin resistance. It may positively impact fertility by enhancing ovulation, pregnancy rate and egg quality.
  6. Omega-3 Fatty Acids (EPA and DHA): Reduces inflammation, supports cardiovascular health, regulates menstrual cycles, lowers androgen levels and improves fertility.
  7. Combined Prenatal Supplements: Usually include folic acid, vitamin D, and other antioxidant nutrients that can positively affect AMH levels, a marker of egg quantity.

If you’ve been trying to conceive without success and want reassurance, consider visiting The Top Gynaecologists in London, one of the UK’s leading fertility clinics. Our clinic has top fertility doctors and advanced fertility technology to swiftly diagnose and address any underlying issues affecting your fertility journey.

Mahantesh Karoshi
Mahantesh Karoshi

I'm a Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist and Women's Health Expert. I believe in educating my patients to contribute to achieving the best possible clinical and holistic outcomes. By taking this approach, I enable and empower my patients whilst addressing their issues and concerns. I run a private practice with an extremely high standard of professionalism. My patients are directly involved in their care and management in all stages. My approach to my patient's problems is built on dedication and passion, drawing on analytical thinking and my on-time honored reading, teaching medical professionals nationally and internationally.