If you and your partner are trying to conceive, there are numerous factors that may help or hurt your fertility. After all, the body is a complex system, and fertility is directly linked to health. Moreover, if you are using in vitro fertilization (IVF) to become pregnant, any factor that may affect the outcome should be scrutinized. Since diet is already a strong determinant of health, it stands to reason that the foods a woman eats during IVF treatment can help or hinder her chances of success. However, how large a role does diet really play in IVF success, and which foods should a woman include or avoid during treatment?
When you seek fertility treatment at our Dallas office, we will help you investigate every opportunity for the most rewarding experience possible. While every patient is different, there are a few helpful rules regarding diet and nutritional intake that should at least be considered in conjunction with IVF and the ensuing pregnancy.
The Link Between Health and Fertility
Because the reproductive system is intimately linked with the rest of a patient’s body, many of the same habits that affect a patient’s overall health will also raise or lower a patient’s fertility. Being overweight or underweight, for instance, is linked to lower fertility. Autoimmune disorders, tobacco use, alcohol use, and harmful environmental factors can also negatively impact a patient’s fertility. Likewise, the nutrients a woman puts into her body have the potential to affect her uterine health and hormone levels. Although not every food is necessarily harmful or beneficial, some food groups do tend to result in slightly better or worse chances of IVF success.
Foods that May Help IVF
Since reproductive health is influenced by so many competing and complex factors, it can be difficult to assertively identify positive and negative influences for all women. Some studies therefore arrive at conflicting or inconclusive results, including those that investigate dietary choices. Nevertheless, by drawing from an aggregate of these studies and applying what we know about nutrition and fertility, there are a few food groups that are generally thought to be helpful for fertility and thus IVF treatment:
- Lean proteins: Iron has been positively linked with fertility, making protein intake an important part of a balanced IVF diet. However, many foods that are rich in protein are also high in fat, which can decrease fertility. For the best sources of protein, alternate between poultry, fish, and non-meat options such as nuts, beans, quinoa, and peas.
- Fish: Fish isn’t just a good source of protein; it also contains omega-3 acids, which can help fertility on multiple fronts. These acids are beneficial to reproductive health, circulation, and stress, which plays a surprisingly large part in the success of fertilization.
- Zinc: An abundance of zinc may not help, but a lack of it can certainly hurt a woman’s reproductive system. To ensure you do not have a zinc deficiency, be sure to include foods that contain this element, such as seafood (particularly oysters), spinach, nuts, mushrooms, or even cocoa powder.
- Complex carbohydrates: Some studies suggest that a low-carb diet is the way to go, but carbohydrates aren’t necessarily bad as long as they are “complex.” That is, whole grains and non-refined carbs are fine, as they take longer to digest and thus do not disrupt blood-sugar levels.
- Folic acid: Folic acid, or B9, has been shown to have one of the most distinct affects on IVF treatment, increasing fertility and preventing birth defects later on. Foods that are high in this nutrient include dark leafy greens, asparagus, citrus fruits, avocadoes, corn, and cereals.
Foods that May Harm IVF
Most foods contain at least some nutritional value, and therefore need not be excluded entirely. Nevertheless, the regular consumption of some foods may harm your chances with IVF and should be avoided when possible. Such foods include:
- Trans fats: Foods that contain trans fats may interfere with fertility, including baked goods, fried foods, beef, and many frozen dinners. Usually, if it’s high in cholesterol, check the trans fat content.
- Simple carbohydrates: Simple carbs are easily broken down into sugar, thereby interfering with blood sugar levels and disrupting the body’s natural hormonal balance. Try to avoid white flour, white rice, sugary drinks, and sweet snacks for this reason.
- Mercury: High levels of mercury are bad in general, but can be especially detrimental for fertility. Limit your intake of fish that is high in mercury, such as tuna, swordfish, and mackerel.
Contact Us for More Information
Although these dietary suggestions are helpful for most patients, every woman’s body should be given special consideration. For a more personal discussion of your body’s needs and fertility levels, set up a consultation at our office today.