Trying to get pregnant is stressful enough without trying to follow all the dos and don'ts of fertility. However, just in case you wanted something else to think about, nutritionists are look further into what foods could increase your chances of getting pregnant, and what foods you could probably skip. So at the very least, you can make up a shopping list and check it with your doctor.
A Harvard University review published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology this month came up with a comprehensive list of foods that contribute to fertility in both women and men. Overall, a diet of fish, poultry, whole grains, and fruits and veggies is related to better fertility in women and "better semen quality" in men, according to ABC News.
Dr. Jose Chavarro, one of the main authors of the study, told the Daily Mail that in the past decade there's been an "explosion" in research concerning nutrition and fertility, though it's often contentious, since many doctors don't believe diet matters when it comes to fertility. He added, "Up until recently, the only studies that received the most widespread attention on nutrition and fertility were related to alcohol and caffeine. Now more and more studies are coming out on other foods and their possible link. The field is moving a lot and conclusions are always changing."
So it's really not a perfect science, and none of the research done yet shows a direct correlation between certain foods and fertility. So you shouldn't judge yourself (or your partner) for not consuming enough fish or fatty acids if you're having trouble conceiving. If anything, following a balanced diet is just always a good rule to live by.
ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton, a nutritionist and ob-gyn clarified this on Good Morning, America, saying:
The field of nutritional science is still in its infancy so caution is advised against placing undue importance on one dietary element over another. Also fertility is a complex process that involves many factors and is not as simple as adding or avoiding a particular food.
Then again, there are those who believe in the 2009 Harvard Medical School review on the "fertility diet," which includes foods with healthy fats, iron, and protein. And even ice cream. According to USA Today, women who follow a diet "rich in vegetables and fruit, whole grains and beans, healthy fats, certain protein-rich foods, and full-fat dairy" had a 28 percent lower risk of infertility causes and 66 percent less risk of anovulatory infertility, which is when ovulation doesn't happen at all.
Still, experts insist that nothing is cause and effect when it comes to infertility — our bodies, including our male partners', are complicated. Christy Brissette, a registered dietitian and president of 80 Twenty Nutrition, a nutrition and food communications company told USA Today of the infertility diet:
This was a cohort study, meaning the women were followed over time and links were made between what they reported eating and their fertility,As such, the findings aren't cause-and-effect, but they are healthy recommendations that could be helpful in boosting fertility.
If you want to round out your diet with possible fertility-friendly foods, these are some things to try and things that probably don't matter at all.
DO: Omega-3 Fatty Acids
As the new review found, salmon and nuts are good sources of omega-3 acids. Squash, eggs, spinach, and tofu are also sources of omega-3 acids, according to EatThis.com.
According to this new review of studies, dairy is pretty neutral when it comes to fertility. You can still enjoy your cheese, but it might not have any effect on the quality of sperm or your ovulation.
If your meat is antibiotic free, go for it. But the review found that "eating red meats and fish with high levels of environmental contamination may be of concern."
This is especially important for men, according to the review. So insist on your partner eating dark chocolate and lots of berries to boost the quality of his sperm.
Figuring out how to get pregnant if you're struggling is rough, so you shouldn't give yourself anymore homework than you already have, especially if you've been doing IVF treatments or going through a stressful time. The results are not conclusive just yet about how your diet affects your fertility, if at all. So make sure to mainly focus on eating what makes you feel good. That's the most important thing, always.
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