Eating for fertility; The link between nutrition and pregnancy

Dietician & Fertility Nutritionist Mandy Parkinson-Bates from our Adora Fertility Melbourne Clinic explains the important role that nutrition plays in getting pregnant.

Have you heard the saying “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”? Never is this more important than when a couple is planning to start a family. There is so much evidence that nutrition plays an essential role in the fertility of both males and females, but it tends to go unnoticed in many cases.

Nutrition can be both protective for fertility and a healthy pregnancy and a risk factor for reduced fertility.

Let’s talk about the protective factors that diet can have first. Protective factors refer to the fact that you may improve the likelihood of achieving a healthy ovulatory cycle and being sufficiently nourished to support a pregnancy for females, or  improving the probability of producing sperm with good structure and mobility in sufficient numbers for males.

The specific nutrients required for fertility differ between males and females, but there are  dietary patterns and foods that are beneficial across the board. Regular and consistent meals that include an adequate intake of good fats, fish, iron, and a good range of vegetables are an excellent start to providing your body with the elements needed for peak fertility. Specific micro-nutrients are important in each step of ovulation and sperm production, and these can be assessed for dietary adequacy by a dietitian. 

On the other hand, dietary risk factors for fertility are specific dietary patterns, nutrients, or diet-related biochemical changes that reduce your chance of healthy ovulation and sperm production.

Possibly the most significant risk factor for reduced fertility is being over or underweight. For women, a body mass index (BMI – which is a measure of how heavy you are compared to how tall you are) of over 30kg/m2 or under 20kg/m2 can lead to reduced fertility. In this case, seeing a dietitian to bring your weight closer to a healthy weight in a safe and nourishing way can increase your fertility significantly.

In addition to this, diets high in saturated fat, simple sugars,or alcohol are also implicated in reduced fertility in both males and females. There are specific micro-nutrients that are essential in ovulation and sperm production that may be missing from your diet that affect your fertility. In this case, food is always the best option to ensure adequate intake, but a supplement may also be required.

High cholesterol and triglyceride levels in your blood test may be associated with reduced fertility.This can be addressed through diet or medication depending on family history and individual test results.

To ensure you have the best dietary pattern that provides all the vital macro and micro-nutrients for a healthy ovulatory cycle, healthy sperm production, and successful pregnancy, it is best to see a dietitian for a complete dietary assessment and tailored advice.

Getting help with fertility

If you’re a looking to make an appointment with Dietician Mandy Parkinson-Bates in our Greensborough clinic, or looking for assistance on your fertility journey please contact us.

About Mandy Parkinson-Bates

Mandy is an Accredited Practising Dietician and Nutritionist who practices out of our Melbourne Clinic. She started her career as a research scientist at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne and then the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute. She then completed a Graduate Diploma in Human Nutrition and a Masters in Dietetics.

Mandy has a keen interest in women’s health and loves working with women and couples to ensure they are meeting all the nutritional requirements for a healthy menstrual cycle, and are well-nourished to support a pregnancy.

Mandy offers a tailored approach, with individualised nutrition advice based on your specific circumstances.