As the old adage, “You are what you eat,” correctly points out, the link between nutrition and your health is indisputable. Finding those exact links can often be easy — the effect of your diet on diabetes is direct and plainly evident.
The connection to issues like infertility is less clear, but it doesn’t mean there isn’t one.
At NOVA IVF, our team understands the many issues that can lead to problems with fertility, and we do our research so we’re able to help our patients build the families of their dreams.
Here’s what we’ve found when it comes to nutrition and fertility.
The reason we leave no stone unturned when it comes to evaluating fertility issues is because of the following statistics (which were determined among couples who’ve tried to conceive over the course of a year of unprotected sex):
- In one-third of couples, the problem stems from the man
- In another third, the issue lies with the woman
- In the final third, fertility issues are caused by both the man and woman or for reasons unknown
As you can see, evaluating fertility can be complex and often frustrating, which is why we consider all the factors that may pose a risk in order to create the perfect environment for conception.
Your weight: An indirect and important link
One of the first ways that nutrition plays a role in fertility is that studies show your weight can play a role. In fact, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine reports that 12% of infertility cases in women are because they weigh too much or too little.
Let’s first look at the overweight and obesity side of this equation. When a woman carries excess pounds, her body produces more estrogen, which can act as a sort of birth control. On the male side, obesity can affect sperm motility and sperm count and lead to male infertility.
Conversely, if a woman is underweight, it affects her reproductive health in some very serious ways, and she may not be ovulating properly or have the nutrients necessary for optimal egg development.
Fertility and your diet
When it comes to what you should and shouldn’t eat, a study conducted by Harvard Medical School revealed some interesting findings.
First, the usual health culprits like caffeine and alcohol appear not to affect fertility, as well as not-so-obvious foods and nutrients like vitamin D, soy, antioxidants, and dairy products.
What researchers did confirm, though, is that folic acid can play a valuable role in your ability to conceive and carry a child to term.
Going beyond folic acid, the fertility in both men and women appears to benefit from vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids.
Not surprisingly, these researchers also discovered that people who ate healthy diets low in saturated fats and high in plant-based foods fared better when it comes to fertility.
The bottom line is that supplying the right balance of vitamins and nutrients to your body supports optimal function in all areas, including fertility.
If you’d like to learn more about the many ways you can improve your fertility or methods for circumventing infertility, such as in vitro fertilization, please contact our office in Mountain View, California, to set up a consultation.