Changes To Diet, Lifestyle May Help Prevent Infertility From Ovulatory Disorders

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Women who followed a combination of five or more lifestyle factors, including changing specific aspects of their diets, experienced more than 80 percent less relative risk of infertility due to ovulatory disorders compared to women who engaged in none of the factors, according to a paper published in the November 1, 2007, issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology. The study was led by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and did not examine risk associated with other kinds of infertility, such as low sperm count in men.

"The key message of this paper is that making the right dietary choices and including the right amount of physical activity in your daily life may make a large difference in your probability of becoming fertile if you are experiencing problems with ovulation," said Walter Willett, senior author and chair of the HSPH Department of Nutrition. The lead author is Jorge Chavarro, Research Fellow in the HSPH Department of Nutrition. Both scientists have earned MDs and have appointments at Harvard Medical School.

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Click here to watch a short video of Drs. Willett and Chavarro explain the paper's key findings.

Infertility affects one in six couples, according to studies in the U.S. and Europe. Ovulatory problems have been identified in 18 to 30 percent of those cases.

The researchers followed a group of 17,544 married women who were participants in the Nurses' Health Study II based at the Brigham and Women's Hospital. The team devised a scoring system on dietary and lifestyle factors that previous studies have found to predict ovulatory disorder infertility. Among those factors were:

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