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February 2008 Issue

An ultrasound image of a fetus at 18-weeks gestation.
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Does What You Eat Truly Impact Your Fertility?

Published February 2008

Infertility affects one in seven couples and sometimes the cause can not be medically explained. Could something as simple as what a woman eats increase her chances of becoming pregnant?

“Currently, there isn’t scientific evidence that clearly demonstrates a woman’s diet affects fertility,” says Michael Thomas, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UC.

Researchers did recently release dietary guidelines based on information they collected from surveys of women trying to get pregnant, Thomas says, but what was missing from the study is that it was not tested on infertile women.

“It’s hard to say whether specific dietary guidelines can truly help a women get pregnant unless they are tested on infertile women,” he says.

Thomas notes, however, that there are research-based dietary guidelines that help keep people healthy.

“Regardless if a woman is trying to get pregnant or not, everyone can follow these basic dietary guidelines for good health,” says Thomas.

The guidelines include:

  • Eat a diet high in vegetables and fruits—they contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Go for color—brightly colored fruits and vegetables (like blueberries, red peppers and spinach) contain more nutrients.
  • Eat complex carbohydrates, which take longer to digest, instead of refined carbs. Think whole grains, beans, vegetables and whole fruits, not white bread, white rice or potatoes.
  • Take a multivitamin. If you are trying to become pregnant, look for a multivitamin that has at least 400 micrograms of folic acid. This vitamin protects babies from neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida.
  • Get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a day. Exercise helps build muscle and strengthens bones.

For more dietary guidelines, Thomas recommends using the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food pyramid. For additional pregnancy information, visit 


UC Health Line features health information and tips for consumers.

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