If you’re like most couples, you want to do everything you can to improve your chances of success when going through In Vitro Fertilization or IVF. According to a study published in the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics, inflammation explains why some IVF cycles succeed and others fail.
In the study, gene testing was done on ovarian follicle cells in IVF cycles that were successful; these were compared with ovarian follicle cells in cycles that were not successful. Follicles are the part of the ovary where the egg cells come from.
Researchers found that there were more active “inflammation genes” in the cycles that failed compared to cycles that were successful. The study suggests that inflammation of the ovarian follicles plays a negative role in the success of the IVF cycle.
What This Means for Your IVF Endeavors…
Do as much as you can to reduce inflammation in your body before undergoing an IVF cycle. It has already been established that inflammation in a woman’s cycle can disrupt ovulation. From this study, it appears that, even if you are ovulating naturally, or with the help of IVF drugs, inflammatory factors can harm the eggs that get harvested for IVF.
Naturally Manage Inflammation
Diet is Key! There are foods you can eat that naturally reduce inflammation.
- Make sure your diet is high in anti-inflammatory fruits and vegetables, such as dark leafy greens and vegetables with a lot of color in them, like peppers and berries, blueberries, beets, celery, pineapple, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, turnips, and Brussels sprouts.
- Eat anti-inflammatory foods. These include oily fish and wild salmon as well as coconut oil, vegetables that have been fermented (think kimchi and sauerkraut), and foods that contain probiotics.
- Consume herbs that have anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) and turmeric (Curcuma longa), common in cooking and available as supplements, have anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric contains anti-inflammatory curcumin and Ginger decreases inflammatory cytokine production in the body.
According to the IVF study, it is the genes that go on to make cytokines that appear to be over-expressed in the follicles that failed more often to produce a pregnancy when IVF was undertaken.
Herbs offer Anti-Inflammatory support.
- Green tea (Camellia sinensis) is a tea that can be consumed by women who are trying to reduce inflammation in their body. Capsules that contain Camellia sinensis is another way of consuming the anti-inflammatory properties found in green tea.
- White Willow bark (Salix alba), Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), Resveratrol and Frankincense (Boswellia) have been studied less for their anti-inflammatory properties, but they won’t harm you and may help to improve the health of your eggs, whether you are undergoing IVF or not.
Avoid inflammatory foods!
Some foods are naturally inflammatory to be avoided.
- Processed foods that contain industrial seed oils, such as corn oil, grapeseed oil, canola oil, safflower oil, vegetable oil, sunflower oil, and soybean oil are inflammatory if eaten regularly.
- Always avoid the trans-fats seen in highly processed foods, including those that have partially hydrogenated margarine, shortening, and even vegan butter spreads.
- Sugar is inflammatory as are highly refined grain products.
- While yogurt and kefir are okay, pasteurized dairy products are known to trigger inflammation for some people by increasing the number of inflammatory prostaglandins in the body.
The Bottom Line
The best thing about incorporating anti-inflammatory foods and avoiding inflammatory foods in your Fertility Diet is that these become regular eating habits that improve your ability to ovulate in the first place and, according to the study, play a role in maintaining the health of egg follicles that give rise to the harvested eggs used for in vitro fertilization.
- Fortin CS, et al. (2019) Gene expression analysis of follicular cells revealed inflammation as a potential IVF failure cause. J Assist Reprod Genet. Retrieved from https://europepmc.org/abstract/med/31001707
- Lorenz TK, et al. Links among inflammation, sexual activity and ovulation. Evol Med Public Health. 2015; 2015(1): 304–324. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26675298
- Foods that fight inflammation (Updated: November 7, 2018). Harvard Women’s Health Watch. Retrieved from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/foods-that-fight-inflammation
- Gunnars, K. (July 13, 2018). 10 Proven Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-turmeric
- Terry R, et al. (December 2011). The Use of Ginger (Zingiber officinale) for the Treatment of Pain: A Systematic Review of Clinical Trials. Pain Medicine, Volume 12, Issue 12, Pages 1808–1818. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1526-4637.2011.01261
- Basu A, et al. Green Tea minimally affects Biomarkers of Inflammation in Obese Subjects with Metabolic Syndrome. Nutrition. 2011 Feb; 27(2): 206–213. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2010.01.015. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2952043
- Spritzler, F. (December 17, 2018). 6 Foods That Cause Inflammation. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/6-foods-that-cause-inflammation