It is well known that obesity negatively impacts the chance of conceiving (both naturally and by means of IVF). Extra weight has also been associated with increased risk of developing PCOS, premature birth and various complications during delivery. A recent study by Dr Ciara Wright showed that extreme dieting and rapid weight loss are equally detrimental. That is why specialists recommend a moderate and well-balanced IVF diet.
Stress and sex hormones are created from the same building blocks. Extreme diets stress the body; this results in an elevated production of cortisol hormone. Considering IVF treatments are normally stressful by themselves, this may lead to not enough materials being left for the formation of sex hormones (progesterone and oestrogen).
In line with this, Dr Wright recommends women trying to lose weight and conceive to have three small protein-rich meals a day, as well as two healthy snacks. Her IVF diet of choice is Mediterranean-style, which that has been shown to positively impact oocyte quality. It contains lots of fruit and vegetables and is rich in omegal-3, antioxidants, and minerals. Light-to-moderate physical exercise is also advised. A sample daily menu would include eggs, whole grain bread, chicken, salmon, rice cakes and peanut butter, alongside assorted fruit and vegetables.
It should be noted that nutrition also has a significant effect on sperm quality. This is why experts recommend both partners stick to a healthy diet for several months prior to trying to conceive (or undergoing ART treatments). For the male partner, it involves an antioxidant-rich diet (these come from vegetables, fruits and nuts).