Diet Infertility

In women, being overweight or underweight can impair fertility.3 Excessive thinness from vigorous dieting or strenuous exercise is a common cause of infertility in women in the industrialized countries. In underweight women with body fat content lower than 16-18% of their body weight (women normally have about 25% body fat), ovarian production of estrogen is reduced. This can impair ovulation, interrupt the menstrual cycle, and produce infertility. On the other hand, too much body fat can also interfere with ovulation and cause infertility. About one in ten overweight women have irregular menstrual cycles. Weight loss in overweight, infertile women can cause a return of ovulation and fertility. Women who are trying to become pregnant to maintain or attain a normal body weight.2,3

High intakes of alcohol and caffeine may reduce fertility in women. Women trying to conceive should limit their alcohol intake to less than two glasses of wine or beer per day and minimize their coffee intake. Deficiencies of vitamin E, vitamin B12, and folate, as well as iron and zinc, can reduce fertility.4 5 A high body burden of toxic metals (such as lead, mercury, and cadmium) may also impair fertility.

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