Women who make certain healthy food choices in the months before IVF/ICSI may significantly increase the chances of becoming pregnant according to a 2012 Dutch study - published in Human Reproduction - increasing the need for women to understand the importance of a healthy preconception diet. Previous studies have shown dramatic increases in pregnancy rates when a Mediterranean-type diet is followed prior to conception. The focus of this study was evaluation of the effect of consuming six specific food groups in the months prior to conception, these food groups were based on the dietary recommendations of the Netherlands Nutrition Center which include:
* At least four slices of whole wheat bread daily (or comparable servings of
* The use of monounsaturated or polyunsaturated oils,
* 200 g or more of vegetables daily,
* 2 or more pieces of fruit daily
* 3 or more servings of meat or meat replacers weekly
* 1 or more servings of ﬁsh weekly.
Couples presenting at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology of the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, who were planning to become pregnant recorded their dietary habits on questionnaires. A score of one point was assigned for each nutritional category that was adequately met, therefore the maximum score was six indicating that nutrition was excellent in every category measured,
The questionnaires were used to calculate the 'Preconception Dietary Risk' score or PDR indicating the quality of nutritional habits; a greater score indicates increased adherence to a healthy diet. The study evaluated all couples (199) who underwent a first IVF/ICSI treatment cycle within six months after receiving preconception nutritional counseling.
After adjusting for the age and smoking habits of the female partner, the BMI of the couple and treatment indication there was a strong association between the PDR (diet quality) of the woman and the chances of a successful ongoing pregnancy after IVF/ICSI. Just a one point increase in the PDR (diet quality) score produced a 65% increased chance of ongoing pregnancy leading the researchers to conclude that:
"Our results show that increasing adherence to Dutch dietary recommendations in women undergoing IVF/ICSI treatment increases the chance of ongoing pregnancy. These data warrant further confirmation in couples achieving a spontaneous pregnancy and in randomized controlled trials."
"In this study, we show that the quality of the preconception diet of
patient-couples undergoing a ﬁrst IVF/ICSI treatment associates with
the chance of ongoing pregnancy after IVF/ICSI treatment within 6
months after preconception counselling tailored on nutrition and life-
“After adjusting for several covariates a beneﬁcial one-point in-
crease in the PDR reﬂects a 65% increased chance for ongoing
If you are trying to conceive the quality of your diet in the months prior to fertility treatments may be an important factor to tip the odds in your favor.
This article is not intended to diagnose or treat medical conditions or to replace the advice of a suitably qualified physician or dietitian.
Human Reproduction, Volume 7, Issue 8, (August 2012), p. 2526-2531
ISSN: 0268-1161, DOI: 10.1093/humrep/des157. Oxford University Press. The preconception diet is associated with the chance of ongoing pregnancy in women undergoing IVF/ICSI treatment Twigt, J.M.1; Bolhuis, M.E.C.2; Steegers, E.A.P.3; Hammiche, F.4; van Inzen, W.G.1; Laven, J.S.E.1; Steegers-Theunissen, R.P.M.1