Your diet can affect IVF outcomes

A total of 12% of all infertility cases are due to weighing too little or too much.a

One of the easiest ways to determine if you are underweight or overweight is to calculate your body mass index (BMI). You can use this BMI calculator from the National Institutes of Health website to determine your BMI.

BMI<19

Underweight

BMI19-24

Normal

BMI25-29

Overweight

BMI>30

Obese

Weight can affect fertility in many ways:

  • Underweight women may be affected by irregular menstrual cycles or stop ovulating completely
  • Obese women
    • May also have irregular menstrual cycles and ovulation
    • With normal ovulation cycles still have lower pregnancy rates than normal-weight women
    • Have lower success rates with IVF than normal-weight women
    • Have shown lower pregnancy rates and higher miscarriage rates
    • Are at an increased risk of developing pregnancy-induced (gestational) diabetes and high blood pressure (pre-eclampsia)
    • Have a higher chance of delivering by cesarean section
    • Have children with an increased risk of some birth defects and high birth weight

If you are considered underweight or obese, consult with a healthcare provider.

A healthy diet to support fertility

Eating the right foods is essential to optimizing reproductive potential. A balanced diet is rich in quality protein and low in sugar, salt, caffeine, and trans fats (trans-fatty acids or partially hydrogenated oils); uncontaminated by heavy metals; and free of nicotine, alcohol, and recreational drugs.

It is also recommended to eat foods high in monounsaturated fat, as they are associated with higher odds of live birth.

Always be sure to follow your doctor’s advice first and to consult with him or her before making changes to your diet.

Vitamins and your fertility

In addition to a healthy diet, taking prenatal vitamins and folic acid are recommended for optimal fertility health. Always talk to your doctor before you take any medicines, herbs, or vitamins.

Talk with your healthcare provider about what kind of prenatal vitamins you should take.

Ask how much folic acid you should take before you get pregnant and during the first part of your pregnancy. Folic acid helps prevent birth defects in the baby’s brain and spine.

You can find prenatal vitamins and folic acid supplements at any pharmacy. In addition to these supplements, you should also increase your folic acid intake by eating leafy green vegetables, fruits, beans, peas, some whole-grain cereals, and nuts.

aData from ASRM.org.
bData from NIH.gov.