Food Facts is always interested in how nutrition affects our health, and realizes that sometimes it can be in hard to discern ways. We came across a great article in Science Daily that refers to a new study that is showing a link between nutrition and positive outcomes in infertility treatment and wanted to share it with our community.

A study released by the Harvard School of Public Health and funded by the US National Institutes of Health probed the effects of dietary fat on the outcomes of women treated for infertility via in vitro fertilization. Dietary fat in the study as classified as total, saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, omega 6, omega 3 and trans-fat. It was shown that women with a higher consumption of dietary saturated fats have fewer mature eggs (oocytes) for the egg retrieval process in IVF (in vitro fertilization).

While dietary fat intake had been previously studied for its effects on fertility, there has been little exploration done regarding its effects on fertility treatment outcome. It has already been known and accepted that higher consumption of trans-fat can be associated with ovulatory difficulties like PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and miscarriage. Saturated fats can be a cause of lower sperm counts in men. But now we are discovering how the consumption of fats can affect treatment outcomes.

The in vitro process is highly dependent on the number of mature eggs that can be harvested from the patient. The lower the amount of mature eggs for reproductive endocrinologists to work with, the lower the number of actual embryos that can be used in the final stage of IVF, the embryo transfer.

The study was presented during the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Emryology by Dr. Jorge Chavarro, an Assistant Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.

147 women undergoing in vitro fertilization for the treatment of infertility at the Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center were studied. The study included assessments of egg development, fertilization rates and embryo quality as well as pregnancy and live birth rates. The fat intake of each of the women were categorized into tertiles and results were controlled for other possible fertility influences including specific infertility diagnosis, BMI and smoking status.

The resulting statistical analysis showed that women with higher fat intake produced fewer eggs that were mature enough for successful fertilization (classified as metaphase II (MII) oocytes). The results was associated with intake of saturated fats
Dr. Chavarro stated,”Only MII oocytes can be used for IVF, thus, having fewer mature oocytes can mean fewer embryos to choose from for … transfer.”

When asked about recommendations to IVF patients based on this study, Professor Chavarro responded, “While these results are interesting, this is the first time to our knowledge that dietary fats have been linked to treatment outcome in IVF. So it is important that our results are replicated in other studies before making strong recommendations about fat intake to women having infertility treatment.”

There’s more fascinating information about how a variety of different fats effect the in vitro fertilization process. Food Facts invites you to read more at: