Anti-Inflammatory Diets in Fertility: An Evidence Review

Nutrients. 2022 Sep 21;14(19):3914. doi: 10.3390/nu14193914.


Infertility is a global health concern affecting 48 million couples and 186 million individuals worldwide. Infertility creates a significant economic and social burden for couples who wish to conceive and has been associated with suboptimal lifestyle factors, including poor diet and physical inactivity. Modifying preconception nutrition to better adhere with Food-Based Dietary Guidelines (FBDGs) is a non-invasive and potentially effective means for improving fertility outcomes. While several dietary patterns have been associated with fertility outcomes, the mechanistic links between diet and infertility remain unclear. A key mechanism outlined in the literature relates to the adverse effects of inflammation on fertility, potentially contributing to irregular menstrual cyclicity, implantation failure, and other negative reproductive sequelae. Therefore, dietary interventions which act to reduce inflammation may improve fertility outcomes. This review consistently shows that adherence to anti-inflammatory diets such as the Mediterranean diet (specifically, increased intake of monounsaturated and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, flavonoids, and reduced intake of red and processed meat) improves fertility, assisted reproductive technology (ART) success, and sperm quality in men. Therefore, integration of anti-inflammatory dietary patterns as low-risk adjunctive fertility treatments may improve fertility partially or fully and reduce the need for prolonged or intensive pharmacological or surgical interventions.

Keywords: Mediterranean diet; anti-inflammatory diet; fertility; infertility; lifestyle; nutrition; preconception; proinflammatory; reproductive health and diseases; review; supplementation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Diet, Mediterranean*
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Flavonoids
  • Humans
  • Infertility*
  • Inflammation
  • Male
  • Semen


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Flavonoids

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding. S.A. is supported by a Monash University Faculty Graduate Research Stipend. L.J.M. is supported by a Heart Foundation of Australia Future Leader Fellowship. A.M. is supported by a Peter Doherty Biomedical Research Fellowship provided by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia.