Dietary Fat Impacts Chances With IVF


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When women undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF), the kind of fat they eat can powerfully affect their chances of becoming pregnant.

Researchers assessed how much monunsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fat was in the diets of 147 women undergoing IVF at Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center.

These types of dietary fats are found in many common foods:

  • Monounsaturated fat is found in high levels in olive oil, avocados and nuts.  
  • Polyunsaturated fats are found in nearly all oils besides olive oil, including in canola, soy, grapeseed, and corn oils.  
  • The saturated fat  family includes coconut oil, beef fat, and butter fat.  You can tell a fat is saturated because it is solid at room temperature.

Striking Results

The more saturated fat a woman ate while undergoing IVF, the lower her chances of becoming pregnant. Only a certain special stage of egg, called an M2 oocyte, can be extracted from an ovary and used for IVF.  Women with the lowest saturated fat intake produced on average 11.6 M2 oocytes. The women with the highest consumption of saturated fat averaged only 9.3 M2 oocytes.

Women with the highest intake of different fat, the polyunsaturated type, had poorer quality embryos when their oocytes were fertilized and more embryos that were slow to develop.

Olive Oil Is Friendly to Fertility

Monounsaturated fat, plentiful in healthy Mediterranean diets, gave women a major boost in fertilty.  Women with the highest intakes of monounsaturate fat had almost 3.5 times the chance of having a live birth as women with the lowest intakes.

Researchers believe that dietary fat may affect IVF outcome by affecting levels of inflammation as well as a measure of metabolic function called insulin sensitivity.  Both of these are known factors in fertility, especially in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).  

PCOS sufferers are frequent users of IFV in part because their poor insulin function and heightened level of inflammation reduce the possibility of healthy conception and pregnancy.

Food For Fertility

To maximize your fertility while undergoing IVF, you may want to reduce your red meat consumption, switch to non-fat dairy products, and avoid oils apart from olive oil.  Make nuts, avocados and olive oil part of your daily food routine.

ESHRE 2012.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  Research and nutritional information included is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease and should not be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. Consult your physician before initiating any new dietary or supplement program. References available by request.