Currently 1 in 6 Australian couples face infertility problems. Fertility can be due to a number different reasons ranging from problems with your female anatomical structures, male issues such as sperm quality, as well as imbalances with your hormones. It is also very important to remember that your diet too plays a vital role in helping influence the ‘fertility factor.’
How does my diet influence fertility?
There is no scientifically proven ‘fertile diet’ for women trying to fall pregnancy, however listed below are some of the most important dietary contributors to your fertility status. Of these, your overall weight or BMI is the most important factor.
- Women with a BMI >30 find it 3 times more difficult to fall pregnant.
- This is due to ‘ovulatory infertility’, whereby the high levels of body fat causes imbalances in your hormones that lead to irregular menstrual cycles or stop them altogether. Consequently ovulation or the release of your egg does not occur.
- Women with a BMI of <19 or an intense exercise regime also find it more difficult to conceive.
- This is because the small body mass leads to hormonal problems, resulting in similar problems listed above.
- Caffeine has been claimed to interfere with the fertilization process by making it more difficult for your fertilized egg to implant inside the uterus.
- Caffeine also reduces blood flow to sustain its growth via squeezing the blood vessels within the uterus6.
- Women who consume at least 500mg of caffeine per day take longer to conceive6. This is equivalent to 4-5 cups of instant dried coffee or around 2-3 of brewed or machine coffee. If you consume more than 700mg this can cause more serious damage to your tubes, whereby the ovulated egg fails to travel down to meet and fertilize the sperm.
- Binge drinking will disrupt your menstrual cycles, making them more irregular and ovulation scarce.
- Alcohol can also increase the risk of spontaneous miscarriage, as well as provides your body with excess calories, which can cause weight gain and an increase in your BMI if you aren’t careful.
- You should also be considering removing alcohol from your diet completely if planning on falling pregnant as alcohol can be very harmful to your developing baby in early pregnancy.
- You should also remind your partner that both excessive alcohol consumption as well as binge drinking will also reduce his sperm quality.
5. High saturated fat diet
- A diet high in trans-fatty acids has been described as being unfavourable for fertility.
- Foods with a high composition of trans-fatty acids are manufactured foods such as margarine, commercial frying fats and high fat baked goods, and should be avoided.
- Instead you should be consuming more unsaturated fatty acids that not only create an ideal hormonal balance within your body, and also help improve the quality and motility of sperm.
- Foods high in unsaturated fatty acids include plant-based flaxseeds, almonds and other nuts and seeds, as well as oily fish sources such as salmon, mackerel and sardines.
Can certain foods influence fertility?
Some foods are indeed known for their ‘fertile’ favourability, and although have not being scientifically proven to help, they are not harmful to your diet and potentially could be worth a shot.
▪ Honey – Contains lots of minerals and amino acids that help with your ovarys’ function, ensuring that an egg is released each month.
▪ Garlic – Known for its high selenium content, which helps prevent miscarriages.
▪ Pumpkin seeds, black beans – Contain zinc that is needed for healthy sperm and egg development.
▪ Oysters – Acts as an aphrodisiac and boosts libido. Also contains zinc.
▪ Broccoli and cabbage – Contains an important phytonutrient that helps with oestrogen metabolism, an important female hormone needed for the conception process.
▪ Oranges – High content of antioxidants that help create strong and healthy sperm.
▪ Raspberries, blueberries – Contain high levels of antioxidants, which have a protective effect on the ovulating egg from other harmful substances within the body.
▪ Avocado – Was in ancient times called the ‘testicle tree’ and thought to be an aphrodisiac.
Given that infertility rates are rising, it is important to understand the associations between your diet and its effect on falling pregnant. By eating a healthy well balanced diet and a normal weight, this will promote fertility, prevent the prevalence of infertility rising, and help avoid disappointment and anxiety amongst couples.
If there are any further questions on fertility and diet, please don’t hesitate to ask any questions or send an email with your enquiry.