Dr Miriam Stoppard: I’m sceptical about any diet that claims to boost fertility

I’m highly sceptical about any diet that claims to boost fertility especially when it’s simply a healthy diet we should all be eating anyway, even though a couple of Harvard professors have written a book stating you can up your chances of conceiving by what you eat.

And that applies to both women and men.

The diet is supposed to improve ovulation in women and sperm quality in men. Professors Jorge Chavarro and Walter Willet came to this conclusion after looking at 18,000 women who were trying to conceive and found changing the quality of their diets lowered infertility risk for those with ovulation problems.

Among the suggestions, Chavarro and Willet advise cutting out red meat and trans fats, loading up on vegetables and nuts, and eating whole-fat dairy products over low-fat or skimmed.

They say this stimulates ovulation and improves chances of getting pregnant.

A 2018 Greek study found that women who followed a Mediterranean diet had a higher success rate of becoming pregnant while having IVF.

This diet also encourages eating less red meat, sugar and saturated fats while loading up on veg, whole grains, lean protein and nuts.

Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt are allowed, but in moderation.

It strikes me we should ALL be eating this kind of diet anyway. For some women it could also help weight loss, and overweight women can struggle to get pregnant.

A 2008 study looked at BMI and found that for every point a woman’s BMI was over 29 (classified as overweight/obese), her chances of conceiving dropped by 4% compared to a woman with a normal BMI of 25.

For men, eating foods such as salmon, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids, is said to be helpful in promoting sperm quality.

DHA, a member of the omega-3 family, is found in high concentrations in sperm, suggesting that it’s important to sperm cell vitality.

Even dark chocolate has been recommended as it contains an amino acid proven to increase sperm count, sperm motility and semen volume.

Sperm take about two months to form and eggs need 90 days to mature, so sperm and eggs take time to benefit from the food a couple is eating.

Frankly, I don’t think couples can do any more than eat a balanced diet, avoid fizzy drinks, smoking and get plenty of exercise.

It’s not special, it’s sensible.

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