Diet and Fertility: How Food Can Play a Role in Conception

by Ella

Trying to conceive can be an emotional rollercoaster, and food can become a source of stress or control. But a growing body of research suggests that diet can significantly impact fertility in both men and women.

Weight Management and Portion Control

A Kildare-based teacher named Áine, who struggled with weight fluctuations, discovered that a fertility clinic recommended nutritional counseling to optimize her health and promote hormonal balance. Registered dietitian Jess Willow emphasizes a weight-inclusive approach, focusing on a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients rather than restrictive calorie counting.


Making Dietary Changes

Willow encourages incorporating fertility-boosting foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats into your diet. Here are some key dietary changes recommended by experts:


Regular Meals: Aim for consistent mealtimes throughout the day to support hormonal health.


Mindful Eating: Learn to recognize hunger and fullness cues to avoid overeating or skipping meals.


Protein at Breakfast: Include protein sources like eggs or Greek yogurt in your morning meal to promote satiety and hormonal balance.

Combating Common Myths

Dietitians warn against eliminating entire food groups like gluten or dairy without a medical diagnosis. These foods can be beneficial sources of nutrients for fertility. Additionally, over-reliance on supplements without proper testing can be counterproductive and lead to nutrient imbalances. Blood tests to check vitamin D, iron, folate, ferritin, and vitamin B12 levels are recommended to identify potential deficiencies that can affect fertility.

Essential Micronutrients

Research highlights specific micronutrients that play a crucial role in fertility:

Vitamin D: Adequate levels in both men and women are linked to improved egg quality, sperm health, and successful embryo implantation.

Folate: Supplementation with folic acid is crucial for all women of childbearing age to reduce the risk of neural tube defects and improve ovulation rates.

Dietary Tips for Men

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Consume oily fish twice a week or take high-quality omega-3 supplements to enhance sperm motility and quality. Walnuts are another dietary source with potential benefits.

Unsaturated Fats: Include avocados, nuts, seeds, hummus, and olive oil in your diet for healthy testosterone levels.

Colorful Fruits and Vegetables: Consume a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables to benefit from a range of antioxidants that protect sperm health.

Dietary Tips for Women

Full-Fat Dairy: Choose full-fat yogurt and cheese over low-fat options for a more balanced intake of essential nutrients.

Plant-Based Protein Sources: Incorporate legumes, lentils, nuts, and seeds into your diet alongside eggs, fish, and dairy for protein diversity.

Low-Glycemic Index Carbs: Opt for high-fiber options like whole grains and oats to regulate blood sugar levels.

Healthy Fats: Replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats from sources like avocado, peanut butter, seeds, and olive oil.

Prenatal Vitamins: Consider taking a prenatal vitamin containing folic acid and vitamin D to address potential deficiencies.

A Sustainable Approach

Both dietitians emphasize the importance of a long-term, evidence-based approach to dietary changes for fertility. Jess Willow highlights, “While the focus is achieving a pregnancy, it’s also about supporting people’s relationship with food, something they can keep for the whole of their life.”



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