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Protein, Low Fat Dairy, and Fewer Carbs Boost Fertility

ASRM,  Oct 24, 2012

October 24, 2012

Research findings presented at the 2012 American Society for Reproductive Medicine Annual Meeting say nutrition impacts fertility and in vitro fertilization (IVF) success rates.

Data from the Rochester Young Men’s study was examined in two studies examining the effects of diet on semen quality. The first paper analyzed the impact of dairy consumption on sperm and found a decline in quality with increased dairy intake. Researchers found that products with higher fat content, particularly full fat dairy products, showed an even stronger relationship to poor sperm motility and concentration.

A second study using the same database looked at carbohydrate consumption and semen quality. Data suggested that higher glycemic load might be responsible for lower sperm concentration in study participants.

Two additional studies examined the impact of nutrition on IVF success rates. The first asked participants to complete a diet log from which nutritional content was derived. Patients consuming a diet high in protein and low in carbohydrates achieved higher rates of embryos reaching blastocyst stage and increased chance of pregnancy. The second study asked those who showed fewer embryos at the blastocyst stage to complete a 3 day diet log. This group underwent nutritional counseling, was asked to lower their carbohydrate consumption and raise their protein consumption for 2 months prior to their next IVF cycle. Surprisingly, blastocyst formation increased to 45% (from 19%) and pregnancy rate climbed to 83% (from 17%).

Richard Reindollar, M.D., Vice-President of ASRM, acknowledges these staggering results and believes these studies “demonstrate how little we know about the effects of micronutrients in our diets on various aspects of reproduction”. Reindollar states further research is required to determine if carbohydrates or their properties, like gluten, are responsible for the diminution of IVF success rates.

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