Food for Fertility



The importance of micro-nutrients to conception

The adage goes, “You are what you eat,” and the same is true for fertility. But when you’re trying to conceive, you want to rely on much more than just an old saying. Statistics show that around 11% to 20% of couples experience subfertility. Of this, 10% can be classified as unexplained infertility, while 60% are classified as anovulatory subfertility. In my experience, couples today also find their infertility issues compounded by their hectic lifestyles.

Factors such as stress; unhealthy body weight; excessive smoking, alcohol and caffeine intake; exposure to toxins, as well as recreational drug use, can all play a role in affecting fertility. But even those who maintain a healthy weight, manage their stress and abstain from unhealthy habits may neglect a very important factor – nutrition. Fortunately, there is now hard evidence in the form of scientific proof that shows you can indeed improve your fertility by eating right, particularly by including micro-nutrients in your daily diet.

While macro-nutrients, like protein, unsaturated fats and carbohydrates can be easily obtained from the foods that you eat, micro-nutrients like vitamins, minerals and trace elements are often left out due to an unbalanced and unhealthy diet. Realising that micro-nutrient deficiencies are not uncommon in women of reproductive age, Dr Rina Agrawal, a consultant and associate professor in reproductive medicine and obstetrics/gynaecology at the University Hospital at Warwick University, conducted a study on the role of micro-nutrients in improving pregnancy rates.

The study, which involved 58 suitable candidates consisting of subfertile women with an average age of 32.3 years (range 19–40), investigated whether subfertile women undergoing ovulation induction using standard treatment regimens have higher pregnancy rates when given multiple micro-nutrient (MMN) nutritional supplements, as compared with folic acid alone. The findings of the pilot study unveiled that the women on MMN supplementation had a higher pregnancy rate of 66.7%, as compared with 39.3% for those on just folic acid.

This therefore suggests that additional MMN supplementations, such as vitamins B6, B12, folates, vitamin E, multivitamins, iron, zinc, copper and selenium, does improve female fertility. In addition to finding that the women on MMN supplementation had a higher chance of pregnancy compared to their peers, the women on MMN supplementation also required significantly fewer attempts to become pregnant, as compared with women on folic acid. But there are also other benefits to taking MMN supplements, including reduced reproductive risks ranging from infertility to miscarriage, and fetal structural defects to improved embryogenesis or placentation.

You may need only small amounts of micro-nutrients, but they are no doubt essential. Each vitamin and mineral plays a specific role in ensuring that your bodily systems function in top form, and needless to say they are vital to your overall wellbeing. In order to get more micro-nutrients from your daily diet, you should eat a wide variety of foods from the different food groups. It is also best to avoid eating fast foods and processed foods that are of low nutritional quality. Instead, opt for fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, lean meats, fish and low-fat dairy products.

Stay tuned to find out more about foods that can boost fertility.


The Reality of IVF

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Many couples choose their Fertility doctors because of their preference towards a characteristic of the doctor, however, many more choose to undergo their IVF treatment under a doctor or a centre because of the perceived success rates of the doctor or a centre. A published survey in the UK revealed that success rate of a centre or a doctor is the key determining factor for the decision of going through IVF in a particular Fertility Centre.


Therefore, all IVF doctors and centres strive very hard to increase the success rates of their patients. We emphasize on the patients’ lifestyle and age, in hope to get them to come at a younger age and in a better state of body fitness, so that we can obtain better eggs and sperms and hence make better embryos. We improve our laboratory environment and technology to mimic the uterus environment to yield a better fertilization and growth rate. We pat our own shoulders when we produce good quality embryos. And then we transfer the good looking embryos into the uterus and we wait……


10-12 days later, we either rejoice with the patient for a positive result, or we put on a very sad and sorry face to deliver the bad news

So what happened in between the time after we put those embryos back into the uterus until the time we test for pregnancy?   The answer to this is that nobody knows.

As doctors we placed the embryos back, and nobody actually knows when and how the embryos get implanted, and what determines whether the embryos will get implanted or not.

This is the Holy Grill of the science and wonders of IVF

Many people had tried various things, complete bed rest, baby aspirin, steroids, hanging the legs up and etc etc etc.

Studies after studies failed to show any good recommendation on what we should do to improve the implantation rates. Some people believe that by performing a Pre-implantation Genetic diagnosis (PGD) can improve the implantation rates. There is some logic behind this: by selecting the normal chromosomal embryo to put back into the uterus, the chance of implantation increases. However, years had gone by with such a practice being implemented in some centers and there is only a marginal increment in pregnancy rates.

A recent study conducted at KL Fertility Centre (Monash IVF, KL) showed some interesting data.

We looked at all the women going through one IVF and divide them into 3 different groups by age.

Women who are under the age of 35 have 60% chance of getting pregnant during the fresh cycle when we put back the embryos into their uterus.

If they do not get pregnant during the first round and have good embryos which can be frozen and to be used in a later date, the chance of them getting pregnant by replacing 1-2 frozen embryos is around 60%.

By the time this group of women exhausted all their embryos which were produced by ONE IVF treatment, the likelihood of them having at least one baby is around 80%.

This translates that 4 out of 5 couples who are under the age of 35 will get pregnant with just ONE IVF attempt.

The success rate is about 60% in women between the age of 35-40 with the same trend observed.

Even for the group of women who are in the range of over 40 years of age, the success rate is close to 30%.

This certainly have a significant impact on the way we think….we now know that the chance of pregnancy is extremely good by just having ONE IVF without even having to subject the embryos to expensive and potentially hazardous pre-implantation genetic testing.


The key thing is to just keep moving on!!!!!


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