If you want to preserve fertility, there’s a possibility your diet will play a part according to the available research.
You may be wondering if there is any sort of diet you can follow to help you with your chosen method of fertility preservation. Essentially, a diet meant to aid fertility is the same one you would want to follow to preserve your fertility. This is because the end goal is the same: preparing your body’s reproductive system for pregnancy.
While there is a lot of research in this area, more data is still needed to clarify exactly what your diet should be if your aim is to maintain fertility. However, there are some things you should consider that may help.
Diet and fertility research
A team of Harvard Medical researchers published a comprehensive review of previous studies exploring the potential impact of diet on fertility in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28844822/). In that study, they found that folic acid, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12 and diets that were widely considered healthy–such as the Mediterranean diet–could aid fertility in women.
It’s unclear exactly what the impact of alcohol, caffeine, soy, dairy products, antioxidants, vitamin D and alcohol have on fertility. More research is needed in these areas. Trans fats and diets that were not considered healthy–defined as diets high in sweets, potatoes, sugary beverages, and red and processed meats–appeared to have a negative impact on fertility in women.
When it comes to studies in this area on men, the results were similar. Healthy diets improved semen quality, while diets high in trans or saturated fats had the opposite effect. Caffeine and alcohol did not appear to have much of an impact.
In addition, there is a popular diet plan developed using ongoing research that aims to help women improve their chances of pregnancy. As noted by Health.com, the Fertility Diet, created by Dr. Jorge Chavarro and Dr. Walter C. Willett (https://www.health.com/weight-loss/fertility-diet), recommends a diet rich in plant-based protein, whole grains and healthy fats. This diet aims to improve a woman’s egg supply, which may be the desired outcome for a fertility preservation plan. These types of foods may also help regulate insulin and glucose levels in the blood, which also play a role in ovulation.
Some people, when following the fertility diet and exercising, have been able to lose weight. It’s also considered an easy diet to follow because there are no unusual ingredients involved, and most restaurants will offer a few dishes that meet its general criteria. Of course, as with other diets, those on the Fertility Diet will have to get used to the dietary changes and pay closer attention to facts on nutritional labels.
What does the research mean if you want to preserve fertility?
Overall, eating a healthy diet is a sound idea for anyone who is trying to preserve fertility. Additional omega-3 fatty acids, B12 and folic acid could be beneficial for women. Many of these vitamins are found in abundance in common prenatal vitamins, which is something to discuss with your doctor if you are looking to adjust your diet in preparation for preserving your fertility.
Keep in mind there are still many unanswered questions surrounding the impact of your diet on fertility. It’s unclear, for example, how much B12 or folic acid a woman should take, and whether relying on a supplement or getting these vitamins via diet is preferred. Women who are seeking to add omega-3 fatty acids to their diets have to balance the risk of the toxins in fish–a common source of this acid–with its benefits for fertility.
There are other tips to improve the chances of pregnancy that may also help prepare your body for fertility preservation. Maintaining a healthy weight, for example, is commonly recommended. While you want to increase certain vitamins in your diet, you don’t want to go overboard as excessive vitamins can pose a problem down the road. Too much vitamin A, for example, can cause problems for a developing fetus.
If you are not sure which diet to follow as you prepare to preserve your fertility, be sure to discuss your options with a doctor.