In a nutshell
This article reviewed the effects of diet on fertility in women. The authors concluded that fertility is improved by diets that include folic acid supplements, omega-3s, fish, and olive oil. Fertility was worsened by trans fats, sugar, and refined carbohydrates.
About 15.5% of women in the U.S. are affected by infertility, and 30% of pregnancies result in miscarriage. Although reproductive technologies have helped many women, these treatments can be expensive. Studies suggest that lifestyle choices such as diet may impact fertility.
Methods & findings
Studies found that women who take folic acid supplements are more likely to ovulate (produce eggs) regularly. Folic acid may also protect against miscarriage. Some studies found that women taking folic acid were more likely to have successful IVF (in vitro fertilization) treatment resulting in pregnancy.
Studies did not find a connection between vitamin D and ovulation. Vitamin D also did not affect the chances of conceiving or having a miscarriage. However, some studies found that women with high vitamin D levels had better IVF outcomes.
Carbohydrates were associated with poor ovulation, especially foods that raise blood glucose levels, such as sweets and white bread. Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) were more likely to have diets high in carbs that raise blood sugar.
Trans fats and eating more meat were also associated with poor ovulation. Red meat was associated with fewer embryos after IVF. On the other hand, women with high levels of omega-3s were less likely to have poor ovulation or endometriosis. Omega-3s also improved IVF outcomes.
Studies had inconsistent findings on how dairy affects fertility. Eating more meat was associated with anovulation. On the other hand, eating fish was associated with getting pregnant faster. Whole grains were also associated with better outcomes.
Four studies found soy was associated with better outcomes from IVF. Two studies found Mediterranean diets and diets with olive oil were associated with getting pregnant faster.
The bottom line
This review summarized findings from studies linking diet to female fertility. The authors concluded that diets with folic acid supplements, omega-3s, fish, and olive oil improved fertility. Diets high in sugars, refined carbohydrates, and trans fats reduced fertility.
The fine print
Most of these studies were observational, meaning they looked at how women were already eating. Randomized trials are needed, where women are assigned a diet, and the effect on their fertility is measured.
Published By :
Fertility and Sterility
Sep 01, 2018