Can Sugar Cause Fertility Problems?

Can Sugar Cause Fertility Problems?

It's a cardinal rule of good health that, if you want your body to work well, you have to give it the best possible fuel. For many couples desperate to get pregnant, though, this wisdom flies out the door at the first signs of difficulty conceiving. After all, the thinking goes, if the problem is with hormones, what's the point in trying to fix things naturally? You don't always have to spend thousands on costly fertility treatments, though. Before you shell out for IVF, consider evaluating the role your sugar habit might be playing in your fertility issues.

Sugar, weight, and diabetes

Sugar is often the fastest route to an unhealthy body weight. Research consistently shows that people who eat large quantities of refined sugar are more likely to be overweight, and a high body weight puts you at risk for a host of fertility problems. Most notable among them is diabetes. Diabetes inhibits your body's ability to manufacture and process hormones related to fertility, in addition to causing your health to deteriorate steadily. When you're in poor health, your body may decide now's just not the time to make a baby.

How sugar affects your hormones

Hormones are the key players in pregnancy. During the first part of your cycle, estrogen dominates things, helping you to ovulate about halfway through your cycle. After ovulation, if you're lucky enough to fertilize the egg, progesterone prepares your uterus for implantation, and HCG helps keep your body pregnant. Sugar alters the way these hormones function, and can even convince your body you're already pregnant when you're not! If your doctor says your hormones are out of whack, it's time to take a hard look at your sugar consumption.

Is sugar causing your chronic inflammation?

When your body is injured, the inflammation response can help you fight off the injury or reduce the risk of infection. But chronic inflammation, which occurs when your body is trying to fight off an injury that's not there, plays a role in health problems ranging from arthritis and depression to infertility. Sugar can cause your body to produce more inflammation than is healthy, especially if you already have other autoimmune problems, such as celiac disease or rheumatoid arthritis.

How to eat for optimal fertility

No single diet works for everyone who's trying to conceive, so you should talk to your doctor before radically altering what and how you eat. Diets high in fiber, folic acid, and protein can help you get and stay pregnant; while eating plenty of dark, leafy greens and fresh fruit can begin priming your body for a healthy pregnancy. Many supplements, including a good prenatal vitamin, may also help. Perhaps most importantly, remember that sugar doesn't just come in cookies and donuts. White bread and flour are also packed with refined sugars.