All nutrients play a vital part infertility, so it is important to know which foods are rich sources of the vitamins and minerals you need. Zinc probably plays the biggest role in reproduction. A deficiency in a man reduces the volume of semen and so fertilisation may be compromised.
In a woman, zinc is needed for the right hormone balance, development of the egg, successful fertilisation and for the enzymes of egg implantation. In pregnant women, zinc deficiency increases the chances of miscarriage, low birth weight, labour and delivery problems. Rich sources of zinc include avocados, blackberries, raspberries, asparagus French beans, Brussel sprouts, pulses, wholegrains eg brown rice, wholegrain bread, oats, rye , green leafy veg, nuts e. Folic acid is vital for the prevention of spina bifida and other neural tube defects in babies and is needed in the first 28 days of pregnancy — so should be taken from preconception.
It also supports the placenta. Folic acid deficiency can also lead to miscarriage.
The fertility diet: Foods to eat and skip if you want to get pregnant
Rich sources of folic acid include berries, mangoes, pineapples, avocados, green leafy vegetables, cauliflower, asparagus, parsnips, pulses e. Ground flax seed or flax seed oil bursting with omega-3, the good fat that is vital for sperm health and for making male sex hormones. A great source of zinc, which is needed to make the outer layer and tail of the sperm and to make testosterone. This is a great source of selenium, an antioxidant which helps maintain strong and healthy sperm.
It is also high in the B vitamins needed for sex hormones and helps protect blood vessels and heart — both needed for a good blood supply to you know where! Rich in folic acid to boost sperm health. Low levels of folate increase the risk of sperm that contain too little or too many chromosomes, which may result in birth defects or increase the risk of miscarriage. A fabulous source of vitamin E, which improves sperm quality; good fats crucial for sex hormones; and vitamin C which protects sperm from free radicals, helps improve sperm quality in smokers and helps stop sperm clumping together.
Mixed unsalted nuts and seeds rich in good fats, which are crucial for healthy ovulation; protein which is needed for egg production and to make sex hormones. Inadequate protein intake can decrease the frequency of periods and may also contribute to early miscarriage. Prunes, figs and apricots Brimming with iron, essential for normal ovulation, as well as carrying oxygen to your reproductive parts and everywhere else! One third of pregnant women in the UK have mild anaemia.
Whole grains such as oats, brown rice and whole wheat contain complex carbohydrates to give you energy for baby-making. Broccoli Superfood packed with folic acid, essential to stop spina bifida in your future baby; beta carotene, which is crucial for the enzymes needed for implantation of your fertilised egg but also helps produce female sex hormones, important for ovulation; and vitamin C, which also improves fertility.
Raspberries Contain zinc needed for sex hormones, healthy eggs and egg implantation; manganese which helps make energy and metabolise good fats essential for fertility and are full of antioxidants, which promote general as well as reproductive health. For more information, you can contact Juliet Gellately who is a Nutritional Therapist and founder of vegan charity Viva!
Justine is a health campaigner in after graduating from Bristol University with a PhD in molecular biology. Can a Vegan diet really help you conceive? The answers are yes, […] by Dr Justine Butler. Share on Facebook Share on Twitter.
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Related Posts. Irregular periods are a rite of passage for most women with PCOS because of the way this disorder affects our hormones. At the heart of the matter are our unusually high levels of androgenic hormones like testosterone, and chronic low grade inflammation.
These two mechanisms are the primary cause of ovarian dysfunction and give us two ways we can improve both our PCOS and fertility through lifestyle interventions. So it makes perfect sense that eliminating these foods is a simple way to boost your chances of getting pregnant with PCOS. Our chronic inflammation is also closely linked to the way our cells respond to glucose. Since insulin is one of many important hormones that controls our cellular processes, when insulin is unbalanced, many other hormones go out of synch too.
Most significantly for our periods is the fact that excess insulin causes our ovaries to overproduce androgens which ultimately cause our eggs to stop maturing before they get a chance to ovulate. When our insulin functioning gets bad enough, it then returns the favor by promoting more androgens and further inflammation Rosenfield et al.
In order to get pregnant with PCOS not only do you need to ovulate, but you also need to ovulate good quality eggs. This is one of the key reasons why ovulation induction drugs or injectable hormone products are not a complete solution to PCOS infertility. While the mechanisms explaining this phenomenon go well beyond my scientific literacy, it seems pretty clear from the literature that in addition to preventing regular ovulation, the hormone imbalances of PCOS have a detrimental effect on egg quality, which impacts their ability to perform normal reproductive functions, including important chromosomal changes that typically occur around the time of ovulation Palomba et al.
This has been shown to be true even when the other major variables like age, body weight, and embryo genetics are controlled for Luo et al. With the two I experienced, it took me months to get over the shock and distress I went through. And while not specifically a barrier to having a baby, the reality of getting pregnant with PCOS means you also have elevated risks for pregnancy complications like pre-eclampsia Lonnebotn et al.
I was able to restore my period by changing my diet and lifestyle which then eventually helped me fulfill my dreams of motherhood without another trip to the fertility clinic.
How to Get Pregnant Fast
Modifying the way you eat, exercise, and manage stress has been shown to have a profound effect on PCOS and fertility. Excess weight has been shown to adversely affect the reproductive outcomes of a PCOS diagnosis Baghdadi et al. In my PCOS weight loss article, I share the 15 things you need to know in order to do this successfully. Women with lean type PCOS like I do, have just as much to gain from making these changes if ovulation or recurrent miscarriage is holding you back from starting your family.
The benefits of using lifestyle interventions in addition to seeking fertility treatments can best be seen with a recent study which showed that taking a four month break to improve your diet and lifestyle before starting fertility treatments greatly improves your chances of success Legro et al. Within this list of lifestyle interventions, diet is by far the most powerful. After not having any luck for more than a year of taking the ovulation induction drug clomid, Karima decided to explore dietary interventions as a way to improve her PCOS and fertility.
To her delight, after 6 months of following my dietary guidelines Karima was able to fall pregnant naturally with her gorgeous son. Jamie Bietzell is another great example of the dramatic turn of events that are possible when putting the right dietary changes into practice.
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Jamie and her husband had been trying to conceive for four long years and hung their hopes and dreams on conventional medical treatments like metformin during this time. She knew that a big part of her problem was that she was overweight, but nothing seemed to work no matter how hard she tried. Her A1C levels showed she was no longer diabetic, her blood pressure dropped out of the hypertensive range, and a few months later she had fallen pregnant.
No drugs, no supplements, just the right PCOS diet plan to get pregnant. Despite her disarming modesty, Jamie is a perfect example of how beatable PCOS can be when you put your mind to it. Following the auspicious birth of her son on Christmas day, Jamie kindly gave me permission to share this touching announcement. Adopting a PCOS diet goes well beyond just helping your fertility though. Eating in a way that supports your PCOS can help you be at your best during and following your successful pregnancy.
The downside of using lifestyle interventions to treat PCOS infertility however, is that it can take longer. It takes time for your body to heal and for the effort to convert into real results so plenty of patience is clearly a key factor for success here definitely not my strong suit. My lack of understanding meant I completely underestimated just how powerful lifestyle changes could be.
While it took me two years before I started having a regular period, once I got there, I was able to fall pregnant naturally very quickly. The effect of age on egg quality can be seen in studies that look at the percentage of embryos produced via IVF that have the correct number of chromosomes. Embryos with the wrong number of chromosomes almost always either fail to implant in your uterus or they result in early miscarriage so chromosome count is an excellent indicator of egg quality.
As the figure below shows, egg quality peaks in your late twenties, and then begins a speedier decline after your mid-thirties. Unfortunately the reality is that this has a direct effect on your chance of getting pregnant with PCOS.
Figure 1. Percentage of embryos produced by women that have the correct number of chromosomes i. Franasiak et al. Figure 2. The ability to extend the age at which we can start or grow our families is one of the greatest gifts of advanced reproductive technology, but even with the best clinics, age can be a major barrier to a successful PCOS pregnancy. This comes back to what I said in Step 2.
How To Get Pregnant Fast: 7 Easy Tips To Conceive Quickly
One of the participants from my very first free Challenge found herself in this exact situation. Katrina was suffering from secondary infertility, was struggling with hirsutism, and had gained 50 pounds since her daughter was born four years earlier. The emotional and physical trauma of an earlier miscarriage was taking its toll, leading her to cycle between binge eating and starving herself through depression. Fast forward a few months and not only had she fallen pregnant, but she was also experiencing a wonderful pregnancy that was so much healthier than the first time around. She even managed to avoid getting gestational diabetes like she had in her first pregnancy.
This short summary hardly does justice to the transformation Katrina undertook so for anyone interested, you can read her entire story here. This was always a pet peeve of mine during my four and a half years of trying to conceive. The value of good nutrition specifically for the treatment of PCOS is often not part of your standard medical education, which is why it always pays to know as much as you can about this topic yourself. The best weapon that an informed patient can wield is good information obtained through high quality self-education.
The first options for most fertility specialists that treat women with PCOS are metformin and clomid. In a review of 44 trials involving women, researchers found that there was no evidence that metformin improved live birth rates, whether it was used alone or in combination with clomid Tang et al.
Pregnancy rates? But live birth rates?
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Not so much, which is the result that really matters. In addition to not being an effective fertility treatment, metformin is well known to deplete vitamin B12 Aroda et al. After having looked at the latest research about this drug, metformin is something I never would have taken when I first sought fertility treatment, if I knew back then what I know now to be true.
To learn more on this topic, please see my five reasons not to take metformin for PCOS.
Related The New Fertility Diet Guide: Delicious Food Secrets To Help You Get Pregnant Faster At Any Age!
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