4 Diet Changes to Improve your IVF Success

Melissa Finley
Melissa Finley Contributer

Trying to become pregnant isn’t always an easy path for each couple. There are many ways science and medicine attempt to help. Some couples turn to In-Vitro Fertilization, or IVF, to accomplish this goal. Discover more about best diet changes for better IVF outcome.

“For a woman or a couple seeking to become pregnant it can be an exciting time to consider the prospects of bringing a beautiful baby into the world, but it can also be fraught with anxiety as the road to pregnancy isn’t always very straightforward and can sometimes come with its challenges,” says Alison Acerra, a registered dietician and MedShadow Medical Advisory Board Member. “Fortunately, with medical advancements there are more options to support a woman’s ability to conceive a child – and one of those is IVF.”

Did you know that, based on what she eats, a woman can enhance her fertility and therefore her chances of getting pregnant, while undergoing IVF treatments? Food truly is medicine, and how we eat impacts a lot about how we feel and how our body functions.

First, let’s understand what IVF treatment is and how it works.

IVF is a type of assisted reproductive technology where fertilization occurs outside the body, typically in a laboratory. It involves retrieving eggs from a woman’s ovaries, fertilizing them with sperm in a lab dish, and then transferring the embryos back into the uterus for implantation.

Lifestyle Factors that Negatively Impact Fertility

Before diving into how nutrition can support IVF, let’s first identify some of the most common factors that can negatively impact a woman’s fertility. According to Acerra, these include:

  1. A heavily processed foods diet that’s also rich in sugar and unhealthy fats.  This pattern of eating can disrupt hormonal balance and impair fertility.
  2. Weight: Both being underweight and overweight can affect hormone levels and disrupt menstrual cycles, making it harder to conceive.
  3. Too much alcohol and caffeine can contribute to higher cortisol levels and interfere with hormone production.
  4. Smoking is strongly linked to decreased fertility in both men and women, as it damages reproductive organs and affects sperm and egg quality.
  5. Stress: Chronic stress can disrupt hormone levels and interfere with ovulation, potentially reducing fertility.

“IVF treatments have been a remarkable contribution to medicine and women’s health, giving women more choices when it comes to pregnancy,” says Acerra. “Unfortunately, IVF is not a fail-safe treatment.”

4 Changes To Your Diet to Improve Your IVF Odds

How a woman eats prior to her attempts to become pregnant can influence her rates of success.

“There is much a woman can do to support her overall health, and therefore her fertility and chances of becoming pregnant.  Let’s dive into the ways we can specifically use food to support IVF treatment.”

Acerra advises those attempting to conceive to try the following:

1. Adopt a Mediterranean Diet for IVF

In a 2017 study¹, authors concluded that “infertile women with greater adherence to a Mediterranean diet pattern were likely to obtain more embryos available in IVF cycle.” 

Let’s hear it once again for the Mediterranean Diet! This eating pattern emphasizes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fish, olive oil, and moderate consumption of poultry and dairy,” says Acerra. “It’s rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and healthy fats, which can positively impact reproductive health and embryo development.”

2. Consider Specific Nutritional Supplements

While no dietary change or supplement should be added without first consulting your doctor, especially for those trying to conceive, there are some additions to your diet that could increase your likelihood for success.

“Certain supplements have shown promise in improving IVF success rates in specific situations,” says Acerra. These include:

  • DHEA: Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) supplementation has been associated with improved egg quality and ovarian response in women with diminished ovarian reserve 2.
  • Myo-Inositol: Myo-inositol supplementation may help improve ovarian function and insulin sensitivity, benefiting women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS3).
  • Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10): CoQ10, a powerful antioxidant, may enhance egg quality and mitochondrial function, potentially improving fertility outcomes4.

3. Drink More Water

Your body is mostly made up of water, so it should not be shocking that it is a necessary part of a well-balanced diet.

Proper hydration is essential for optimal blood flow to the reproductive organs and overall health,” says Acerra. “Drink plenty of water throughout the day to support hydration and fertility.”

4. Reduce Inflammatory Foods

Did you know that some foods can encourage inflammation in the body, while others can help to combat it?

“This goes hand-in-hand with the Mediterranean Diet, which is in itself an anti-inflammatory approach to eating,” says Acerra. “Limit your intake of inflammatory foods such as processed meats, sugary snacks, and refined carbohydrates. These foods can contribute to inflammation in the body, potentially affecting fertility outcomes negatively.

What You Eat Matters

What you put into your body, from foods and drinks, to medications and supplements, do matter. They can have a major impact on your overall health.

“Remember to consult with your healthcare provider for personalized recommendations tailored to your specific needs and circumstances,” reminds Acerra. “Here is wishing you and yours a healthy and successful journey to parenthood!”