Fertility with Natural Wellness Questions

Are there any foods that can cause infertility?

There is little evidence that specific foods cause infertility. There was one study (link below) published in the journal Human Reproduction that looked at diet and fertility in 18,000 women without a history of infertility who were trying to conceive or got pregnant in an 8 year period. Women with a high intake of low-fat dairy foods (skim or low-fat milk, yogurt, cottage cheese) were more likely to have infertility associated with problems with ovulation (egg release) than women who ate full-fat dairy. Women who don’t ovulate don’t have regular periods, so this finding may not apply to women with regular cycles. The lowest risk of infertility due to anovulation was in women with at least one serving a day of high-fat dairy – defined as whole milk, cream, ice cream, cream cheese or other non-cottage cheese. Yes, ice cream – this should be the most popular fertility study in years. Of all the high fat dairy choices, whole milk appeared to have the strongest effect in this study.

Extremes of body weight are associated with reduced fertility. Body Mass Index (BMI) is not a perfect measure of being overweight or not (it doesn’t work for someone who is ‘all muscle’) but a healthy range for fertility is about 18.5 to 25. The ability to get pregnant may fall more at a BMI of 35 and above, although many women can conceive even in this range. See the link below for a BMI calculator.

Are there any foods that can improve ovulation?

Including certain foods that are rich in vitamins and antioxidants in our diet can help us prevent fertility problems and even increase the possibility to conceive during in vitro fertilisation (IVF):

  • Fruit and vegetablesideally, a rich diet of fruit and vegetable salads, particularly with lots of green, red or yellow colours, as they are richer in antioxidants. These include, among others: kale, red pepper and blueberries. The deeper the colour, the more nutrients. For their correct consumption, they must be washed carefully and prepared with a minimal amount of cooking, so that none of their vitamins are lost. Ideally, opt for those that are organically farmed to avoid pesticides.
  • Unrefined, whole grain carbohydrates such as whole wheat bread, oats or rye. The refining process destroys a large amount of nutrients and increase the levels of insulin in the blood. This causes irregular periods in people with disorders, such as polycystic ovary syndrome.
  • Food rich in Iron: to avoid anaemia during pregnancy and postpartum; fish or shellfish, like oysters, mussels or sardines, or vegetables like asparagus, broad beans, beans and lentils.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids, above all docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), are considered highly beneficial and we can mostly find them in fish. You should ideally have two doses a week (340g/week) so that the body has an adequate supply. It is advisable to opt for those fish that are low in mercury, like lobster, shrimp, canned light tuna, trout, haddock or salmon. Another option for vegetarians is to opt for flax seeds or supplements in capsules.
  • Incorporating evening primrose oil into your diet is also linked to fertility due to being rich in omega-6 and acting as hormone regulator during the menstrual cycle. Due to its capacity to improve circulation, it can be used in the event of impotence related to a lack of blood supply in a man’s reproductive organs.
  • Prenatal vitamin supplements that provide folic acid, iron, calcium and vitamin B complex may also be necessary and it is important to get advice from a medical specialist, since excess-induced hypervitaminosis is not advisable either.

How can I naturally become more fertile?

Lifestyle changes that may help include aiming for a normal weight if you’re underweight or overweight, stopping smoking, avoiding heavy alcohol use, and avoiding illegal drugs as well as prescription narcotic pain medications. High caffeine intake may increase the risk of miscarriage, based on a single study – stick to one cup of brewed coffee a day and decaf for the rest (no espresso-based drinks). There are no well-proven herbs or supplements, but Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) 500 – 1000 mg a day, may help older women. Vitamin D levels should also be checked as there is some evidence that low levels can have a wide variety of effects on the body.

Does Acupuncture help with infertility treatments?

Acupuncture may help fertility, but it is not supported by high-quality scientific evidence. One study performed in Seattle had lower pregnancy rates in the acupuncture group doing IVF compared to the no acupuncture group. It’s very hard to conduct properly controlled trials: for a drug we might compare the pregnancy rate for women taking the drug compared with women taking a sugar pill or placebo or another drug. For acupuncture it’s hard to define a placebo (fake treatment) group – either putting the needles in the ‘wrong places’ or using needles that retract – you still get acupressure not acupuncture. We are OK with couples who wish to use acupuncture, but we do not recommend Chinese herbal treatments as these may have hormonal effects or interact with fertility medications.

Are there any healthy home remedies for bacterial vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is not a sexually transmitted disease and does not affect your fallopian tubes or cause infertility. There are no proven home remedies to treat BV once you have it. One very small study suggested that eating 150 ml of live yogurt containing Lactobacillus acidophilus every day helped a small number of women to get less BV infections compared with eating pasteurized yogurt, but this is prevention not treatment.

BV may increase a woman’s chance of getting other STDs like chlamydia and gonorrhea. So get treated for BV by your OB/Gyn, but it’s not usually a factor in how easy (or not) it is to get pregnant.