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Reduce Bad Fat, Increase Good for Fertility, IVF

a blog by Claire, July 9, 2012

You may want to ratchet up your guacamole consumption this summer if you're trying to get pregnant or undergoing fertility treatment. (Just don't add sour cream!)

A small study by the Harvard School of Public Health that was presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology investigated the effect of dietary fat on preclinical and clinical outcomes in women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF). The found that women who have a higher intake of certain dietary fats had fewer eggs, poorer embryo quality and lower live birth rates.

Higher intakes of monounsaturated fat (good fats), however, were linked to better odds of live birth. In fact, the odds of a live birth after embryo transfer in women with the highest intake of monounsaturated fat were 3.45 times higher than those of women with the lowest intake.

The study took place among 147 women having IVF at the Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center. Here are some of the highlights:

  • The study investigated the effect of dietary fat classified as total, saturated (fats mainly from animals sources, such as meat and dairy), monounsaturated (olive oil, nuts, avocados), polyunsaturated (soybean oli, corn oil), omega 6, omega 3 and trans (fried foots, processed foods, margarines and shortenings).
  • The study did preclinical assessments included egg development, fertilization, embryo quality and cleavage rate. Clinical outcomes — pregnancy and live birth — were recorded in all women who had embryo transfer.
  • Women with higher intakes of total fat had fewer metaphase II eggs (mature eggs that can be used for IVF) retrieved than women with the lowest intakes, and the association was driven by intake of saturated fat. Women with the highest intake of saturated fat intake had on average 9.3 metaphase II eggs while those with the lowest intake had 11.6.
  • Women who had the highest levels of polyunsaturated fat intake had a higher proportion of poor quality embryos and more slowly cleaving (division of cells) embryos than had women who had the lowest intakes of polyunsaturated fats.
  • Higher intakes of monounsaturated fat were related to higher odds of live birth.

Good sources for monounsaturated fat include avocados and olive oil. For more on the avocado as a fertility food, check out this blog from the archives by Cindy Bailey, author of The Fertile Kitchen® Cookbook: Simple Recipes for Optimizing Your Fertility.

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