If you are like many women and couples who have struggled with fertility, you have likely tried everything under the sun. You have taken countless ovulation tests, charted your cycles, spent hours laying down with your hips and legs elevated, you name it. You may have even dabbled a bit with food choices with fads like seed cycling or raw carrot salads. But has anyone ever sat down and really explained to you how food can impact fertility? Read on to learn more about how to create an endometriosis diet for fertility!
While some are quick to dismiss these thoughts, the truth is that what we put in our bodies has huge impacts on our hormones, our bodily functions, and therefore our fertility. Will eating a “perfect” diet ensure that you can get pregnant right now, today, no problem? Well anyone who has been on the infertility journey for long knows that it can be complex. There are many underlying causes that can impact fertility with endometriosis, from physical blockages to inflammation to stress and more.
But whether you are looking to get pregnant naturally or proceed with IVF or IUI, helping to fuel your body, flood it with nutrients, and nourish yourself down to the cellular level will absolutely have an impact. Anyone who tells you otherwise may not have the knowledge or experience to see the difference diet can make.
I am here to show you, using science and evidence-backed facts, how nutrition can impact your fertility.
Endometriosis diet for fertility: start with the basics
If you are just feeling lost when it comes to how to best eat to support your fertility with endometriosis, just start with the basics. Truly there is no point in going into any sort of advanced protocol until you have these down. Read through this section and if it sounds like what you are already doing, read on! If not, take some time to get these basics down before you move on.
For starters, know that there is no such thing as a “perfect” diet. Trying to create one will just lead to stress. Eating for fertility (or even just for your health in general) is more about consistency than perfection.
Eat real food, and a wide range of it
Okay, this may sound obvious, but many people just don’t get enough of this. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is based mostly in packaged foods, refined carbs, and sugar. Regardless of whether you are trying to achieve pregnancy or not, this is just not a diet that is very packed with nutrients.
A fertile body is one that has nutrients to share! One of the primary factors to consider is that your body feels safe enough to get pregnant. Your body won’t prioritize reproduction until it feels like it has enough resources to nourish both you AND a growing embryo.
So what does this look like?
Pack your plate with plenty of fresh veggies, fruit, whole food sources of protein like meat, poultry, and eggs, and high quality fats like Omega-3s. We will dig deeper into some of that later on, but if you are not focusing on eating whole foods currently this is a wonderful place to start.
Do your best to get in a wide variety of each because each food has different nutrients that are beneficial for your body in different ways.
Ideally you want to go for organic produce, pasture-raised poultry and eggs, grass fed meat, and wild-caught seafood, but do your best with the resources you have available. Fresh food will always be better than processed!
Specific nutrients to consider in an endometriosis diet for fertility
Just focusing on eating whole, real food and packing in plenty of veggies is an excellent strategy if you find you get overwhelmed with the details. If that is you, by all means be on your merry way!
If you are a big nerd like me and love to know more specifics, read on!
Let’s start with protein and fat
Protein is the building block of every tissue in your body. So that also means it will be the building block of the new human you are trying to create. Something can’t come from nothing! We also need protein to produce hormones, which are of course necessary to achieve pregnancy as well.
High-quality protein sources include: pasture-raised poultry and eggs, grass fed meat and dairy if tolerated, and wild-caught seafood. Yes, there are plant sources of protein as well like lentils and beans, but that protein is not as bio-available. Animal protein is the easiest for our bodies to break down and use.
High quality fats are also important for fertility. Omega-3 fats in particular have been shown to improve fertility rates, which includes fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines. Also pasture-raised eggs, high quality meat, and plant sources like chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin, and walnuts.
Don’t forget the micronutrients!
The main micronutrients your body needs for a healthy pregnancy are zinc, iron, selenium, manganese, sodium, and vitamin A. You can take high-quality supplements under care of a knowledgeable practitioner, but I always recommend starting with food sources.
Zinc: Meat, fish, seafood, dairy, legumes, seeds like pumpkin and sesame
Selenium: Seafood, meat, organ meats, eggs, and brazil nuts
Sodium: Real sea salt, seafood, sea vegetables
Vitamin A: Leafy green veggies, tomatoes, red bell pepper, cantaloupe, mango, beef liver, fish oil, milk, and eggs
The great news is that a lot of these foods overlap categories. See if you can get a little of each on your plate each week!
Foods to avoid in an endometriosis diet for fertility
Okay, so we have explored foods that are beneficial for fertility. What about foods that can be harmful?
Mainly, we want to avoid processed foods as much as possible. This includes pretty much anything that comes in a package: a box, a bag, a wrapper, etc. Do your best to stick to whole, real foods, as close to how they come in nature as possible.
In addition, you want to stay away from too much sugar and refined carbs (think bread, pasta, pastries). These all negatively impact your blood sugar which in turn impacts your hormones and your fertility.
Other considerations with endometriosis
The information I have laid out so far is really information that can apply to anyone looking to give their fertility a boost. This all absolutely applies to women with endometriosis, we are no exception there!
But there are some additional factors to consider to make sure your body is prepared as best as possible.
Calming the immune system and inflammation
This one is huge. A stressed body is not a fertile body. Endometriosis is at its root a dysfunction of the immune system. If we can regulate the immune system by addressing gut dysfunction, infections in the gut, and address food sensitivities, your body will feel much safer and much more ready to grow a new tiny human.
Inflammation comes from the immune system’s reactions, so we can address this all in one shot.
This is truly where my work comes in. I help my clients every day get to the root of what is going on in their body so that they can become their healthiest and most fertile self.
If you feel like this needs to be a part of your journey, I would love to hear from you! Click here to learn more about my Thrive With Endo program and apply today.
Other Articles You Might Enjoy:
Skoracka, Kinga; Ratajczak, Alicja Ewa; Rychter, Anna Maria; Dobrowolska, Agnieszka; Krela-Kazmierczak, Iwona. (2021). Female Fertility and the Nutritional Approach: The Most Essential Aspects. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8634384/
Panth, Neelima; Gavarkovs, Adam; Tamez, Martha; Mattei, Josiemer. (2018). The Influence of Diet on Fertility and the Implications for Public Health Nutrition in the United States. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6079277/
International Association for Functional Hormone Health. (2022). Functional Hormone Specialist Certification Program Module 4.1 Slides and Transcripts [PDF Documents].
Nutritional Therapy Association (2021). Basics of Nutrition Module Materials [Video and PDF Documents].