Nutrition for fertility
Eating a healthy diet in the three months preceding conception attempts can help protect DNA, promote sperm health and encourage and support a healthy libido. Recent research suggests that following a Mediterranean style dietary pattern increases the chance of conceiving per month. A Mediterranean diet consists of lots of antioxidant rich vegetables and fruit, whole grains and legumes, monounsaturated vegetable oils, fish, poultry and dairy products. Transitioning to this diet involves reducing saturated fats and processed foods.
General Dietary Guidelines for women and men pre-conception, trying to conceive and undergoing fertility treatment:
- Ensure adequate protein – fish, chicken, lean red meat, eggs, dairy, legumes. A good rule-of-thumb is one protein serve with every meal
Reduce or avoid saturated fats and trans fats
- Ensure sources of healthy fats – olive oil and other vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, avocados
- Reduce or avoid sugars and refined carbohydrates, ensure adequate amounts of whole grains
- Avoid processed foods high in sugar, salt, additives, colourings and preservatives
- Eat plenty of antioxidant rich foods, including vegetables and fruit
- Eat organic where possible
- Drink plenty of fresh water (or alternatives such as herbal teas)Avoid alcohol consumption (also refer to our advice on Lifestyle)
- Cigarette smoking halves the chance of pregnancy per month, both with natural conception and IVF[
- Avoid caffeine, soft drinks, energy drinks
Treatment and nutrition
A study by Alice Redward of Fertility Associates and the Liggins Institute explored the impact of preconception diet on IVF of women in NZ. It demonstrated that women having IVF have too much saturated fat and insufficient fibre and calcium. Some were not taking enough folic acid and many were not following advice about caffeine and alcohol. This is important, as both may decrease the chance of success in IVF treatment.