If one of your goals this year is to work on improving your diet, to increase your chances of conceiving, then we can help.
Here at the IVF Network, we provide information about fertility and conception, through our dedicated channel of experts, our website and our blog posts. This information is to help you to make more informed choices on your personal fertility journey.
One of the specialists that we work with, for example, is Melanie Brown, a nutritional expert, specialising in fertility, IVF and pregnancy. Her qualifications include an MSc in Nutritional Medicine and a BSc (Hons) in Health Sciences: Nutritional Therapy. Alongside this, she has 20 years of experience in working with doctors, gynaecologists, urologists, midwives and IVF specialists.
How can diet help with female fertility?
Women are born with all of the eggs that they will ever have, however, the conditions that those eggs are stored in, can make a vast difference to fertility. Drinking alcohol and smoking can have a detrimental effect on egg quality, but adopting a healthy diet can help to preserve egg quality and improve fertility.
For women suffering with PCOS, endometriosis or fibroids, dietary and lifestyle changes can help to reduce the symptoms and increase their chances of conceiving. Certain vitamins and minerals have specific benefits for fertility and pregnancy. Here are some examples:
Selenium can promote healthy follicles in the ovaries and prevent against miscarriage and birth defects. It must be regulated, as large amounts are dangerous.
Folate is a B vitamin, recommended before and during pregnancy, to help prevent birth defects. (Folic acid is the synthetic form).
Omega-3 helps to improve egg quality and Omega-6 maintains the reproductive system.
Which foods are recommended for female fertility?
Some of the foods recommended for women trying to conceive are lentils, eggs, pomegranate, walnuts, sunflower seeds, liver, asparagus, salmon, sardines, avocados, olives, green vegetables, sweet potatoes and watermelon.
A varied diet is advised and foods should be eaten in moderation, as eating large quantities of some of the foods listed above can be harmful, rather than beneficial.
How can diet help with male fertility?
Drinking excess alcohol and smoking can have a detrimental effect on male fertility. Food rich in antioxidants can improve sperm quality and boost male fertility. The good news for men is, that as new sperm are constantly being created, by making dietary changes now, in the near future they will have a much better chance of conceiving. Certain vitamins and minerals have specific benefits for fertility. Here are some examples:
Selenium is an antioxidant, essential for sperm formation and testosterone production and good for sperm motility. The intake of selenium needs to be regulated, however, as high doses in the diet can be dangerous.
Omega-3 helps maximise blood flow to the testicles and Omega-6 maintains the reproductive system.
Which foods are recommended for male fertility?
Foods rich in antioxidants, including green leafy vegetables, some fruits, beans, fortified grains, cod, beef, turkey, chicken, walnuts, eggs and sunflower seeds are recommended. As always, moderation is important and it’s wise to have a varied diet, as too much of certain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants can be harmful.
Both men and women should consult their GP or fertility specialist before making any substantial changes to their diet or lifestyle. They can advise you about a healthy diet for conception and pregnancy, taking into account you and your partner’s individual BMI and medical history.
Gurevich, R. RN November 2022
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