Diet and female fertility: doctor, what should I eat?

Fertil Steril. 2018 Sep;110(4):560-569. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2018.05.027.


Fecundity is the capacity to produce offspring. Identifying dietary factors that influence human fecundity is of major clinical and public health significance. This review focuses on the evidence from epidemiologic literature for the relationships between key nutritional factors and female reproductive potential. According to existing data, women trying to achieve pregnancy are encouraged to increase consumption of whole grains, omega-3 fatty acids, fish, and soy and to reduce consumption of trans fats and red meat. In addition, a daily multivitamin that contains folic acid before and during pregnancy may not only prevent birth defects, but also improve the chance of achieving and maintaining a pregnancy. In contrast, there is limited evidence supporting an association between vitamin D and human fecundity outcomes despite promising evidence from nonhuman studies. Questions for future research included the roles of other types of fat (especially omega-6 and monounsaturated fats) and protein (especially white meat and seafood) on female fertility; particular attention should also be paid to exposure to environmental contaminants in foods. Although much work remains, this review accrued best available evidence to provide practical dietary recommendations for women trying to conceive.

Keywords: Diet; dietary patterns; female fertility; macronutrients; micronutrients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Congenital Abnormalities / diet therapy*
  • Congenital Abnormalities / prevention & control
  • Diet / methods
  • Diet, Healthy / methods*
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Folic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female / diet therapy*
  • Infertility, Female / prevention & control
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Pregnancy


  • Dietary Fats
  • Folic Acid