You’ll come across different kinds of advice on your journey to conception. Some are evidence-based, others myths. One of them you might be familiar with is eating certain foods to increase your fertility chances. But is this true?
Yes, what you eat when trying to get pregnant matters, and food can impact your fertility. So now you may be wondering, “What foods should I eat to help me get pregnant?”
In this blog, we’ll cover:
- How food can impact fertility
- Foods to eat when trying to get pregnant
- Foods to avoid when trying to get pregnant
- Other ways to increase your chances of pregnancy
What you eat when trying to get pregnant matters.
Can food make you more fertile?
While what you eat alone will not make or break your fertility, what you eat when trying to get pregnant matters. Having a healthy and well-balanced diet provides you with the nutrients you need to conceive and carry your pregnancy to term.
For instance, research suggests that women who eat a fertility-friendly diet like having plant-based proteins, lessening trans fats, having more foods and supplements rich in iron and multivitamins, and having slowly-digestible foods are less likely to have fertility problems related to ovulation disorders.
Plus, having foods rich in omega-3s, folic acid, and vitamin B12 can benefit your reproductive health when you want to have a baby.
A 2018 study shows how your food choices affect your pregnancy chances by looking at how what a person eats might affect how long it will take them to get pregnant. It found that people who don’t eat many fruits and eat more fast food are often at a moderately higher risk of infertility.
In fact, following the US Dietary Guidelines for Americans by having more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats can help give your fertility a boost. While many people can and will conceive with a less healthy diet, eating right when trying to get pregnant can definitely work in your favor.
But it’s important to note that some causes of infertility have no relation to the food you eat. If you’ve been eating healthy and trying for several months with no luck, it may be time to look into fertility testing or consult your doctor.
Eating right while trying to get pregnant can definitely work in your favor.
Foods to have when you’re trying to get pregnant
Foods rich in iron
Many women lack iron at a stage in life when their bodies need this nutrient the most — their reproductive years. And when a person is iron deficient, it might also mean that they lack other essential nutrients due to malabsorptive disorders (disorders that make the body unable to absorb nutrients), poor diet, and blood loss.
This mineral makes hemoglobin in the blood, which carries oxygen from the lungs to other body parts. It helps the body grow, develop, and even produce some hormones.
Although more evidence is needed to show the link between iron and fertility, iron found in iron-fortified foods and plant foods, like leafy greens and whole grains, can support fertility, especially in women who are deficient in iron. You can also reduce your risk of infertility from ovulatory disorders by taking iron supplements.
Foods rich in Folate
You may have heard that folate (or folic acid) is a vital nutrient for a healthy pregnancy. But did you know that taking this nutrient before you become pregnant preps your body to conceive and carry the baby in your womb to term?
Upping your folate intake can do your body more good than you might imagine when trying to get pregnant.
Evidence suggests that this B vitamin may increase your chances of getting pregnant. Folate may reduce the risk of ovulatory infertility, miscarriage, and congenital disabilities.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends having 400 mcg of folic acid daily and 600 mcg during pregnancy. Although you might only be able to meet this intake by also taking supplements, here are some foods rich in folate:
- Leafy greens like spinach, lettuce, and broccoli.
- Beef liver
- Fortified cereals
- Green peas
- Orange juice
- Tomato juice
It might be surprising to learn that carbs can help you become a parent. Although there’s a need for more research, existing evidence suggests that this essential macronutrient can support healthy ovulation and hormonal regulation.
However, the type of carb matters: only complex carbs or slowly digestible carbs are beneficial for fertility. Simple carbs like soda, refined cereal, baked treats, white bread, and white rice may put a person at risk of ovulatory infertility.
Simple carbs may also raise blood sugar levels, which, in turn, can result in hormonal imbalance.
The American Pregnancy Association recommends eating complex carbs like fruits, beans and legumes, whole grains, and vegetables to provide your body with essential nutrients that help support your fertility.
Foods high in fatty acids
Healthy fatty acids — monounsaturated and polyunsaturated — are essential to a healthy diet when trying to conceive. Foods like nuts, avocados, sunflower oil, chia seeds, and olive oil, and fatty fish like salmon, herring, sardines, and mackerel contain healthy fatty acids.
Research suggests that healthy fatty acids can improve your fertility by supporting the implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterus and pregnancy health.
Polyunsaturated fats or omega-3s may also help you ovulate regularly and reduce your risk of ovulation disorder, boosting your likelihood of getting pregnant sooner.
The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet has been a hot topic in pop culture recently. And for good reason — it has so much to offer for physical and mental health, including when it comes to improving fertility.
The Mediterranean diet is an eating plan consisting of foods that people from Greece, Southern Italy, and Spain eat in the twentieth century. This diet involves having more unrefined cereals, legumes, olive oil, vegetables, and fruits, moderate to high amounts of fish, and fewer snacks and meat.
It’s no surprise that the Mediterranean diet can support fertility, since its foods contain so many healthy fatty acids and complex carbohydrates. Additionally, research shows that this dietary pattern can improve pregnancy chances and benefit women undergoing fertility treatment with assisted reproductive technology (ART).
The Mediterranean diet can support fertility due to the high amount of healthy fats and complex carbohyrdrates.
Foods to avoid when trying to get pregnant
Although no food can directly stop you from getting pregnant, it’s best to limit how much you eat certain foods when you want to have a baby. Some foods can be associated with delayed conception, fertility problems, and a higher risk of pregnancy loss.
Here are foods you should consider limiting or avoiding when trying to get pregnant:
- Trans fats
- Saturated fats
Other ways to increase your pregnancy chances
Asides from upping your intake of nutritious foods, here are other ways to be proactive about your fertility and reproductive health.
- Make sure you’re ovulating successfully by testing with Proov Confirm. Problems with ovulation are the #1 cause of infertility and are often easy to solve once you identify them.
- If your partner is male, getting his sperm checked can help you both understand if his swimmers are healthy. You can test sperm with an at-home male fertility test.
- Track when you’re fertile for several cycles to develop patterns, and start trying earlier to maximize your chances of getting pregnant.
- See your doctor about getting pregnant and ask them any questions you might have about improving your pregnancy chances and overall health.
Healthy, nutrient-rich foods are vital in your fertility and pregnancy journey.