Pu­blished: 9. Fe­bruary 2022 | Up­dated: 25. Au­gust 2023 Author: Jo­hanna Kohnen | Re­viewed by Jo­hanna Kohnen

The im­pact of diet and life­style on your fer­ti­lity

Nut­ri­tion also plays a de­cisive role in the de­sire to have children.

Even be­fore the onset of pregnancy, gy­nae­co­lo­gists often re­com­mend ta­king folic acid (also known as vit­amin B9). This pro­motes the cell di­vi­sion pro­cess and tissue growth [1]. Since the folic acid level in the body rises only very slowly, it makes sense to start ta­king it early. In ad­di­tion to vit­amin pre­pa­ra­tions, folic acid can also be taken in na­tu­rally th­rough food. A high con­cen­tra­tion of folic acid is found, for ex­ample, in chick­peas or green ve­ge­ta­bles such as broc­coli and beans.

Women who are plan­ning a pregnancy should take 400 µg of folic acid per day in ad­di­tion to a ba­lanced diet. 
The in­take should start at least 4 weeks be­fore con­cep­tion and be con­tinued until the end of the 1st tri­mester. 

Nut­ri­tion for those who want to have children: Other vit­amins you should con­sider

Vit­amins B12 and B6 af­fect both fe­male and male fer­ti­lity. Vit­amin B12 helps the body pro­cess folic acid and is found in cheese, fish and meat. Vit­amin B6 ge­ne­rally sup­ports me­ta­bo­lism, as well as tes­to­ste­rone pro­duc­tion in men, and is found mainly in beans, broc­coli and po­ta­toes.

Vit­amin E can also sup­port the li­keli­hood of pregnancy and helps the fe­male body to im­plant the egg in the uterus. This is found, for ex­ample, in egg yolks, pep­pers or sun­flower oil. Cal­cium, which is found in dairy pro­ducts, for ex­ample, can pro­mote ovu­la­tion. Foods such as yoghurt, quark and kefir should not be missing from a man’s diet either, as they in­crease the qua­lity of the sperm.

Vit­amins C and E are also im­portant for good sperm for­ma­tion. Men should also make sure they have a suf­fi­cient supply of zinc, as this can have a po­si­tive in­fluence on the con­sti­tu­tion of the sperm cells. There are many pro­ducts available on the market that are spe­ci­ally de­si­gned for those who want to have children. Vit­amin sup­ple­ments can help, but a ba­lanced diet is the be-all and end-all when plan­ning to have children [2].

A ba­lanced diet is im­portant even be­fore you be­come pregnant! Try new re­cipes and try new and dif­fe­rent food. The main in­gre­di­ents should be ve­ge­ta­bles, fruits and who­le­grain pro­ducts. On the other hand, animal foods should be con­sumed in mo­de­ra­tion. You should also drink plenty of water [3]. 
Sweets, su­gary drinks and snack pro­ducts, as well as fats with a high pro­por­tion of sa­tu­rated fatty acids and oils should be con­sumed spa­ringly. Use ve­ge­table oils in­s­tead, such as olive oil [4]. 

Nutrition for those who want to have children

Avoid being over­weight

In Ger­many, about one third of women of child­bea­ring age are over­weight or obese [5]. Ma­te­rnal obe­sity is as­so­ciated with in­creased le­vels of in­flamm­a­tion, hor­mones and un­fa­vorable me­ta­bolites, which can ne­ga­tively af­fect the de­ve­lo­p­ment of the egg and the em­bryo and in­crease the risk of chronic di­se­ases in the child. Obe­sity in males ne­ga­tively af­fects sperm qua­lity, quan­tity and moti­lity and is also su­spected of in­cre­asing the risk of chronic di­sease in off­spring. Weight re­duc­tion would the­r­e­fore be re­com­mended for both sub­se­quent mo­thers and fa­thers [6].

Even be­fore pregnancy, the best pos­sible ap­pro­xi­ma­tion of body weight to a normal weight is de­si­rable. 
An ap­pro­priate weight gain du­ring pregnancy for normal-weight women is bet­ween 10 and 16 kg. 

diet and lifestyle

Eli­mi­nate risk fac­tors

Al­cohol and smo­king are taboo. It is also ad­vi­sable to ab­s­tain from daily ci­ga­rettes and al­co­holic be­ver­ages even while trying to con­ceive [7]. Smo­king has a ne­ga­tive ef­fect on fer­ti­lity and is cle­arly taboo du­ring pregnancy [8]. Even small amounts of al­cohol du­ring pregnancy can have a ne­ga­tive ef­fect on the foetus [9].

Avoid al­cohol and smo­king as early as the child­bea­ring stage. 

Pay at­ten­tion to dental he­alth

Women who are plan­ning a pregnancy should check their dental he­alth and, if ne­ces­sary, have spe­cific tre­at­ment car­ried out. Unt­reated ma­te­rnal pe­ri­odon­titis has been as­so­ciated with an in­creased risk of pre­term birth and low birth weight in stu­dies [10].

Make an ap­point­ment with a den­tist to cla­rify dental pro­blems and prac­tice ade­quate oral hy­giene. 

Exer­cise, exer­cise, exer­cise

Women who want to have children and pregnant women should follow the ge­neral exer­cise re­com­men­da­tions for adults [11]. Again, it is im­portant to pay at­ten­tion to your ha­bits. If you have done sport be­fore, there is not­hing to stop you con­ti­nuing into pregnancy. If your job is mainly se­den­tary and you don’t do much exer­cise, it is ad­vi­sable to go for a walk, for ex­ample. This helps you and your po­ten­tial off­spring to stay he­althy and pre­vents com­pli­ca­tions du­ring pregnancy [12].

About Fer­tilly

At Fer­tilly, we have made it our mis­sion to ac­com­pany cou­ples (ho­mo­se­xual and he­te­ro­se­xual) and sin­gles on the way to ful­fil­ling their child wish. In doing so, it is im­portant to us to create trans­pa­rency in the area of fer­ti­lity ser­vices, to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion and know­ledge on the to­pics of pregnancy and fer­ti­lity and to help you to find the most sui­table Fer­ti­lity Center. Th­rough co­ope­ra­tion with first-class Fer­ti­lity Cen­tres and cli­nics in Eu­rope, en­qui­ries about Fer­tilly are given pre­fe­ren­tial tre­at­ment. This means that our pa­ti­ents avoid the usually long wai­ting times and get ap­point­ments more quickly.

If you would like more in­for­ma­tion about Fer­ti­lity Cen­ters, suc­cess rates and prices, please contact us using this ques­ti­on­n­aire. We will ad­vise you free of charge and wi­t­hout any ob­li­ga­tion.

  • Answer the first ques­tions in the on­line form in order to book an ap­point­ment. This way we can better ad­dress your needs du­ring the con­ver­sa­tion.

  • We will find the best contact person for your in­di­vi­dual needs. Sche­dule 20 mi­nutes for the con­sul­ta­tion.

  • We will in­tro­duce you to the right fer­ti­lity clinic from our net­work, make an ap­point­ment and ac­com­pany you until your wish for a child is ful­filled.

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[1] Czeizel AE, Dudas I, Paput L et al. Pre­ven­tion of neural-tube de­fects with per­icon­cep­tional folic acid, me­thyl­fo­late, or mul­ti­vit­amins (2011); 58: 263–271 [82] De-Regil LM, Pena-Rosas JP, Fer­nandez-Gaxiola AC et al. Ef­fects and safety of per­icon­cep­tional oral fo­late sup­ple­men­ta­tion for pre­ven­ting birth de­fects. Co­ch­rane Da­ta­base Syst Rev 2015; (12): CD007950. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD007950.pub3
[2] Hanson MA, Bardsley A, De-Regil LM et al. The In­ter­na­tional Fe­de­ra­tion of Gyneco­logy and Ob­ste­trics (FIGO) re­com­men­da­tions on ado­le­s­cent, pre­con­cep­tion, and ma­te­rnal nut­ri­tion: “Think Nut­ri­tion First”. Int J Gy­naecol Ob­stet (2015); 131 (Suppl. 4): S213–S253
[3] Deut­sche Ge­sell­schaft für Er­näh­rung (DGE); Ös­ter­rei­chi­sche Ge­sell­schaft für Er­näh­rung (ÖGE); Schwei­ze­ri­sche Ge­sell­schaft für Er­näh­rung (SGE). Re­fe­renz­werte für die Nähr­stoff­zu­fuhr (2017)
[4] Deut­sche Ge­sell­schaft für Er­näh­rung. Voll­wertig essen und trinken nach den 10 Re­geln der DGE. On­line: http://www.dge.de/ernaehrungspraxis/ voll­wer­tige-er­naeh­run­g/10-re­geln-der-dge/; Stand: 20.11.2017
[5] Men­sink GBM, Schien­kie­witz A, Haf­ten­berger M. et al. Über­ge­wicht und Adi­po­sitas in Deutsch­land. Er­geb­nisse der Studie zur Ge­sund­heit Er­wach­sener in Deutsch­land (DEGS1). Bun­des­ge­sund­heits­blatt (2013); 56: 786–794
[6] O’­Connor DL, Blake J, Bell R et al.; Nut­ri­tion Working Group. Ca­na­dian Con­sensus on Fe­male Nut­ri­tion: Ado­le­s­cence, Re­pro­duc­tion, Me­no­pause, and Beyond. J Ob­stet Gy­naecol Can (2016); 38: 508–554.e18 [22] Na­tional In­sti­tute for He­alth and Cli­nical Ex­cel­lence. Weight ma­nage­ment be­fore, du­ring and after pregnancy. On­line: https://www.nice. org.uk/guidance/ph27/resources/weight-management-before-duringand-after-pregnancy-pdf-1996242046405; Stand: 16.11.2017
[7] Röbl-Ma­thieu M. Pre­con­cep­tion Coun­sel­ling. Frau­en­arzt (2013); 54: 966– 972 [4] Hanson MA, Bardsley A, De-Regil LM et al. The In­ter­na­tional Fe­de­ra­tion of Gyneco­logy and Ob­ste­trics (FIGO) re­com­men­da­tions on ado­le­s­cent, pre­con­cep­tion, and ma­te­rnal nut­ri­tion: “Think Nut­ri­tion First”. Int J Gy­naecol Ob­stet 2015; 131 (Suppl. 4): S213–S253
[8] The Ame­rican So­ciety for Re­pro­duc­tive Me­di­cine. Op­ti­mi­zing na­tural fer­ti­lity: a com­mittee opi­nion. Prac­tice Com­mittee of the Ame­rican So­ciety for Re­pro­duc­tive Me­di­cine in col­la­bo­ra­tion with the So­ciety for Re­pro­duc­tive En­do­cri­no­logy and In­fer­ti­lity. Fertil Steril (2013); 100: 631– 637
[9] Van Heertum K, Rossi B. Al­cohol and fer­ti­lity: how much is too much? Fertil Res Pract (2017); 3: 10
[10] Ame­rican Aca­demy of Pe­dia­tric Den­ti­stry (AAPD). Gui­de­line on Pe­ri­natal Oral He­alth Care (2018). On­line: http://www.aapd.org/media/policies_ guidelines/g_perinataloralhealthcare.pdf
[11] Fer­rari N, Graf C. Be­we­gungs­emp­feh­lungen für Frauen wäh­rend und nach der Schwan­ger­schaft. (2017); 79: S36–S39
[12] Pfeifer K, Banzer W, Fer­rari N et al. Na­tio­nale Emp­feh­lungen für Be­we­gung und Be­we­gungs­för­de­rung. Köln: Bun­des­zen­trale für ge­sund­heit­liche Auf­klä­rung (2017)