The American Pregnancy Association states that there is no known link between a woman's diet and her fertility. It also reports that doctors do not have specific diet recommendations for women before, during or after the embryo transfer during in vitro fertilization, or IVF. However, many studies have found that certain nutrients affect fertility and may help couples conceive with IVF.
IVF Fertility Diet for Women
Based on findings from the Harvard Nurses Study, beneficial foods for fertility include vegetable sources of protein, high-fat dairy products, complex carbohydrates and whole grains, foods containing iron and folate, and healthy fats. Herbs may also be beneficial. The American Pregnancy Association recommends that women starting an IVF cycle discuss taking herbal fertility supplements with a board-certified expert in herbal medicine. Some reports have shown that herbal supplements, when taken with gonadotropins, improve success rates with IVF. Always review the safety of herbs and supplements with a health-care provider before trying to conceive.
IVF Fertility Diet for Men
Resolve, the National Infertility Association, claims that a man's diet might affect the movement abilities of his sperm. It recommends that men consume foods like green vegetables, sweet potatoes, kiwi and cantaloupe to boost sperm motility. Dutch researchers found that two diets improved semen quality in men participating in IVF. One diet, called the health conscious diet, was high in fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains. The other diet, dubbed the traditional Dutch diet, consisted of meat, potatoes and whole grains but excluded sweets and alcoholic beverages. Both diets were recommended as beneficial to maintain sperm health during IVF cycles.
Folate Can Increase Fertility
Folic acid, also known as folate, is recognized for its role in reducing birth defects in newborn babies. This vitamin has also been shown to increase fertility in women, including those going through IVF. Researchers from Harvard observed the vitamin intake of hundreds of nurses who were experiencing problems with infertility. The type of infertility they studied, ovulatory infertility, is characterized by abnormal or absent ovulation cycles, which can cause a woman to have trouble getting pregnant. The researchers noticed that the nurses who became pregnant were more likely to be getting sufficient amounts of folic acid in their diet. Women starting an IVF cycle can boost their fertility by consuming foods high in folic acid, including whole grains, citrus fruits, leafy green vegetables and beans.
Men and Women Can Benefit from Zinc
Another tip for conceiving with IVF is to consume at least 15mg of zinc each day. Reproductive health for men and women is improved when zinc is consumed, as the mineral helps regulate hormone levels. A fertility diet for IVF can include zinc-rich foods like meats, dairy products, nuts, beans, whole grains and potatoes.
Women going through IVF should try to avoid caffeine. Caffeine can reduce a woman's fertility, delaying pregnancy for some couples and possibly causing miscarriage for others. Women who consume more than 300mg of caffeine per day are most likely to be affected. A large cup of coffee can sometimes contain more than this amount, and women undergoing IVF may want to avoid caffeine entirely during their IVF cycles.
- Resolve: Healthy Eating
- "Fertility & Sterility"; Use of Multivitamins, Intake of B Vitamins and Risk of Ovulatory Infertility; Jorge E. Chavarro, Janet W. Rich-Edwards, Bernard A. Rosner, & Walter C. Willett; March 2008
- American Pregnancy Association: Embryo Transfer
- American Pregnancy Association: What's the Real Scoop on Caffeine During Pregnancy
- American Pregnancy Association: Pre-conception Nutrition