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Nutrition for Natural Conception and Assisted Reproductive Procedures

Nutrition for Natural Conception and Assisted Reproductive Procedures

Nutrition is a fundamental aspect of fertility that influences both natural conception and assisted reproductive procedures. A well-balanced diet not only supports overall health but also enhances hormonal balance, improves egg and sperm quality, and creates an optimal environment for a successful pregnancy. 

Whether pursuing conception through traditional means or assisted reproductive technologies, the importance of nutrition cannot be overstated. In fact, organisations related to fertility and reproduction emphasise the role of proper nutrition in supporting reproductive health for both men and women, in natural and assisted reproductive procedures. Here are a few examples:

  1. World Health Organisation (WHO),
  2. the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM),
  3. the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE),
  4. the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF),
  5. and the International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS). 
  6. The 'American Pregnancy Association' states; Preconception nutrition research has shown that food and healthy nutrition are tied to fertility health in both women and men.

What does it mean in practice?

Your nutritional intake can either be an asset or a hindrance to your fertility and reproductive health. For example:

  • Hormonal balance is critical for successful conception. Nutrients such as zinc, vitamin E, vitamin B6, and omega-3 fatty acids contribute to the regulation of reproductive hormones. A well-nourished body is better equipped to produce and maintain optimal hormone levels, enhancing the chances of natural conception.
  • The development and maturation of female eggs, also known as ova or oocytes, involve various nutrients that contribute to their overall health and quality. Folate, is essential to DNA synthesis and repair, improving the quality of the egg. Adequate folate levels are crucial during all stages of egg and embryonic development. Omega-3 Fatty Acids maintain the structural integrity of cell membranes, including those of eggs. They also play a role in regulating inflammation. Antioxidants like Vitamins C and E, Selenium, help to protect eggs from oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Oxidative stress can damage the DNA of eggs and impact their quality. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), functions as an antioxidant and plays a role in energy production within cells, supporting the mitochondria of the egg cell. 
  • Sperm cells are no different in this regard; nutrition can help to produce better quality cells. Antioxidant-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, help protect sperm cells from oxidative stress, promoting healthier sperm cells with strong DNA. The process of spermatogenesis, which involves the production and maturation of sperm cells, requires a variety of nutrients to ensure proper function, including Zinc, a crucial mineral for sperm development and function. Arginine, an amino acid, is involved in supporting this process by contributing to the synthesis of proteins and facilitating cell division during the development of sperm cells.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for fertility. Both underweight and overweight conditions can negatively impact fertility. Proper nutrition, combined with regular physical activity, helps in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, thereby improving the chances of conception.

Assisted Reproductive Procedures

For couples undergoing assisted reproductive procedures such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF), nutrition plays a pivotal role in optimising the success of these interventions. Studies suggest that women with a well-balanced diet may have higher success rates with IVF. Correct nutritional intake:

  1. supports the development of a healthy uterine lining,
  2. promotes embryo implantation,
  3. and enhances overall reproductive health.

Good nutrition can support your reproductive health, whilst a poor diet can significantly detract from the fertility health of both men and women. Nutritional choices play a crucial role in overall reproductive health and the inverse of the above is true, negatively affecting hormone balance, egg and sperm quality, and the overall environment for conception. 

It's important to note that the impact of diet on fertility is multifaceted, and individual factors such as age, underlying health conditions, and lifestyle choices also contribute. Adopting a well-balanced, nutrient-dense diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can positively influence fertility health for both men and women.

Quick Tips:

  1. Choose fresh, whole foods.
  2. Try get foods that are closer to home – The time that elapses between harvesting and consumption can impact the nutritional content of fruits and vegetables. As time passes, some fruits and vegetables may experience nutrient degradation
  3. Store food properly in cool, dark places or in the refrigerator/freezer as needed.
  4. Minimise processing and cooking times.
  5. Use cooking methods that preserve nutrients, such as steaming or microwaving.
  6. Consume a variety of foods to ensure a broad range of nutrients in your diet.
  7. While some nutrient loss is inevitable, adopting good food handling practices and making informed choices about food storage and preparation can help retain as much nutritional value as possible.



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