Diet & IVF Treatment: Is There A Connection?

It’s been almost 40 years since the first baby was born through in vitro fertilization (IVF) and today many people are opting for this treatment. IVF is the most effective form of assisted reproductive technology. During this process, mature eggs are retrieved from ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a lab. Then the fertilized egg (embryo) or eggs (embryos) are transferred to a uterus. 

Several studies have reported that the success rate of IVF treatment is relatively high when combined with a tailored diet [1]. It helps manage issues such as ovulatory infertility [2], sperm DNA damage [3], poor semen quality [4], polycystic ovaries [5], and endometriosis [6].

What to Nutrients to Have During IVF Treatment?

  1. Folate-rich foods
    Folate can improve your fertility rate by increasing progesterone levels and reducing risks of ovulatory infertility [7]. It is also a vital nutrient for men who are trying to conceive. Studies have proven that folate consumption can improve sperm concentration and motility [8]. For including folate in your diet, consume daily servings of vegetables such as  broccoli, spinach, cabbage, and beetroot [9]. Fruits such as papaya, pineapple, orange, and other citrus fruits are excellent sources of folate. Legumes such as beans, peas, and lentils are also rich in folate.

  1. Iron-rich foods
    Research says that proper iron nutrition is essential for lowering the risk of ovulatory infertility, an inability to produce healthy eggs [10]. Include iron-rich foods in your diet such as meat, poultry, fish, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, eggs, raisins, etc. Also, to enhance iron absorption, it is necessary  to pair them with vitamin-C-rich foods [11].
  1. Healthy fats
    Healthy fats include monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 and omega-6). According to a study [12], omega-3 fatty acids can promote fertility in men by improving sperm morphology. Another one quotes that omega-3 acids can lead to improved pregnancy rates in overweight and obese women undertaking IVF treatment [13].

What Not to Have During IVF Treatment?
Just like how certain foods improve the chances of conception during IVF. There are certain foods that both men and women should avoid while undergoing this treatment, they are discussed below:

  1. Unhealthy fats
    Unhealthy fats such as saturated fats and trans fats can have a negative impact when consumed in excess. For example, processed red meat, an important source of saturated fat can lower sperm concentration and total sperm count [14]. Trans fats are usually found in fried foods, processed and baked foods. Therefore, refrain from such foods during IVF treatment.
  1. Alcohol
    Studies suggest that women who are planning to conceive should abstain from consuming alcohol as it can disrupt the normal menstrual cycle [15].  Alcohol can also affect the health of eggs and lead to fetus impairment.

  1. Caffeinated Beverages
    Limit the consumption of tea and coffee while undergoing IVF treatment. A recent study has revealed that  there is an increased rate of spontaneous abortion with more than 300mg caffeine/day [16]. Therefore do not consume more than 300 mg of caffeine per day during IVF treatment. If you can, refrain from it completely.

Diet plays a crucial role in increasing the success rate of your IVF treatment. A Mediterranean diet is one of the most recommended diets while undergoing fertility treatment. According to the latest study, this diet can improve the embryo yield in IVF [17]. It focuses on  high consumption of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains, moderate consumption of poultry, eggs, and dairy products, and limited consumption of red meat. The healthier you are, the better your chances of conceiving and having a healthy baby. 

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6079277/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17209201?dopt=Abstract
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22935557?dopt=Abstract
  4. https://academic.oup.com/humrep/article/20/4/1006/701270
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3752890/
  6. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/325092608_Endometriosis_and_food_habits_Can_diet_make_the_difference
  7. https://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282(07)00828-X/fulltext
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4614702/
  9. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1541-4337.12193
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17077236
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2507689
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22416013/
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26742065/
  14. https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/144/7/1091/4615605
  15. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh26-4/274-281.htm
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5733907/
  17. https://rbej.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12958-019-0520-9

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