The Fertility Boost: Why Dairy Deserves a Place in Your Conception Journey

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Dairy, unless one has an allergy or intolerance to it, is recommended for health with lots of evidence to back it up. And, when we consider that 20% of couples these days are having to resort to IVF when trying to conceive, the science for including dairy each day to help with fertility is strong. It can be considered an impactful element as part of a holistic journey towards conception. Here are four areas that it can assist with:

Ovulatory infertility

For women, full-fat dairy foods may be beneficial as they’re associated with a lower risk of ovulatory infertility, while low-dairy foods are associated with a higher risk of ovulatory infertility (1). It’s important to check with your healthcare professional though as to whether this advice is right for you.

Semen quality and reproductive hormones in men

It’s not just women that can benefit from dairy consumption during the conception journey. Research by Afeiche et al. (2013) and Mendiola et al. (2009) (2,3) suggests that dairy intake may also influence semen quality and reproductive hormone levels in men. This highlights the holistic approach needed for optimising fertility outcomes.

Protective against uterine fibroids

Studies also suggest that a higher intake of dairy foods is protective against uterine fibroids. At the moment, there is no conclusive research on why but theories include their higher calcium content or another compound, called butyric acid, which is commonly found in dairy. This research doesn’t show any difference between high-fat or low-fat dairy. (5)

May decrease risk of endometriosis

Inclusion of dairy products rich in calcium and vitamin D are shown to decrease risk of endometriosis, which affects roughly 10% of reproductive-age women and girls globally, and along with other symptoms, can cause infertility.

Dairy is a versatile food source

Here’s a link to some delicious recipes using cottage cheese that you may not have considered, and here’s some for yogurt and milk too. The possibilities are endless for this nutritious food source!

Keep the balance

As you navigate the path to conception, it’s essential to adopt a holistic approach to your diet. While including dairy can be beneficial, it’s equally important to maintain a balanced intake of other food groups. Aim for a colourful array of fruits and vegetables, incorporate whole grains like oats and quinoa, and limit caffeine consumption. Additionally, be mindful of food safety guidelines.

In conclusion, the evidence supporting the inclusion of dairy in your preconception diet is compelling. Whether you prefer full-fat or low-fat options, dairy products offer a range of fertility-enhancing benefits for both men and women. By making informed dietary choices and prioritising overall health, you can optimise your chances of conception and embark on the journey to parenthood with confidence.

 

This is a guest blog, by accredited Practising Dietitian and Certified Fertility Dietitian, Sally Marchini of Marchini Nutrition.

References:

  1. Chavarro JE, Rich-Edwards JW, Rosner B, Willett WC. A prospective study of dairy foods intake and anovulatory infertility. Hum Reprod. 2007;22(5):1340-7.
  2. 46. Afeiche M, Williams PL, Mendiola J, Gaskins AJ, Jørgensen N, Swan SH, et al. Dairy food intake in relation to semen quality and reproductive hormone levels among physically active young men.
  3. Hum Reprod. 2013;28(8):2265-75. 47. Mendiola J, Torres-Cantero AM, Moreno-Grau JM, Ten J, Roca M, Moreno-Grau S, et al. Food intake and its relationship with semen quality: a case-control study. Fertil Steril. 2009;91(3):812-8.
  4. Xia W, Chiu Y-H, Afeiche MC, Williams PL, Ford JB, Tanrikut C, et al. Impact of men’s dairy intake on assisted reproductive technology outcomes among couples attending a fertility clinic. Andrology.
  5. Wise LA, et al. “A prospective study of dairy intake and risk of uterine leiomyomata.” Am J Epidemiol. 2010;171(2):221-32.
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