USC Fertility


The Fertility Diet: Fact or Fiction?

Infertility is a common problem, affecting as many as 1 in 6 couples trying to conceive. Most of the factors that cause infertility are not related to the things a man and woman do during their daily lives.

Among couples with infertility, male causes constitute about 35%, tubal problems account for another 35%, problems with ovulation can explain 15%, and in 10% of these couples, no explanation for the infertility can be identified. The recent excitement about the “fertility diet” is understandable as couples seek ways of enhancing their chances of pregnancy.

Based on research conducted by doctors at Harvard Medical School, a diet consisting of the following elements may have favorable effects on fertility: lower intake of trans fat, greater intake of monounsaturated fat; lower animal protein, greater vegetable protein; higher intake of high-fiber, low-sugar carbohydrates; high-fat dairy products; higher iron and multivitamin use.

Still, it is important to recognize that the majority of problems that cause infertility will not be correctable by the above diet. While this research study showed that women with ovulation problems were less likely to report consuming elements of the “fertility diet,” and women who became pregnant were more likely to report consuming a “fertility diet,” a cause-and-effect relationship was not proven.

Given that women who eat healthy diets are likely to do many other things that are good for their bodies, it is impossible to know whether it is truly the diet that effectively protected them from ovulation difficulties or helped them become pregnant.

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