When most of us think of fertility treatment, we imagine sophisticated diagnostic testing, powerful medications, and high-tech procedures. Choosing certain foods and drinks as a way to influence your ability to become pregnant sounds more like folktale wisdom than medical advice.
No wonder, then, that in a society blessed with many medical advances, we sometimes overlook the natural tools we have to help us with our fertility and pregnancy experiences.
Yet, science now is coming full circle to take another look at the role nutrition may play in improving fertility and supporting healthy pregnancies. While many women don't start getting serious about eating healthfully until after they've become pregnant, there's increasing evidence that diet matters long before conception.
Watch your weight
Unhealthy food intake—whether too much or too little—has been recognized as a contributing factor to infertility for many years.
Too little or too much weight can make your reproductive cycle irregular. That causes you to ovulate only now and then, or not at all.
"Your ovaries and your fat cells regulate estrogen, which affects ovulation. If you're too thin, you may not be producing enough estrogen, and if you're overweight or obese, you may be producing too much," says Maria Biasucci-Vianna, MS, RD, CDN, a New Rochelle, NY, dietitian who has counseled women with infertility problems in her private practice.
The first order of business, Biasucci-Vianna says, is to achieve and maintain a healthy weight to keep your reproductive cycle in balance. She advises the women she sees to check their BMI (body mass index) score. A BMI ranking of 19-24 indicates a healthy weight (athletes may have higher scores due to muscle mass). Anything below or above that range should be discussed with your health care provider.
[To calculate your BMI and learn your weight category, go to http://www.healthywomen.org]
Foods to improve ovulation
If weight isn't a problem, but you're experiencing infertility, will changing your dietary habits help you eat your way to motherhood?