Can Intermittent Fasting Cause Fertility Issues?

If you’re on the lookout for anything that might cause fertility issues, evaluating your diet is a good idea.

While the idea of “fertility foods” are an old wives’ tale, it’s true that healthy fats boost fertility!

Dairy (full fat, please!), protein from veggies, and regular exercise are fertility boosters as well, according to Harvard Medical School.

But what about fasting? Can it cause fertility issues?

As you might already know, I’ve talked about how intermittent fasting is different for women. Basically, women are more sensitive to “starvation mode.” (When your cells are energy-depleted, your body makes starvation hormones — remember me talking about “leptin” in the past, the hormone that makes you hungry?)

If you guessed that our bodies are more sensitive because we can make babies, you’d be right! Starvation hormones are also built-in protections for your baby in the womb.

So, no intermittent fasting if you’re trying to get pregnant?

Nope, intermittent fasting is still completely okay, if you keep a few things in mind!

First of all, remember that fasting is normal for humans and was a necessary part of life for our caveman ancestors. So for it to cause fertility issues would mean that humans wouldn’t have survived as a species!

If you’ve come across studies that have mentioned a dropoff in estrogen caused by intermittent fasting…keep in mind that these studies were done on rats.

Thing is, rats are wired to eat constantly. Due to the completely different metabolic setup of rats vs. humans, these studies have to be thrown out, while studies with human subjects have shown either that there are no fertility issues, or there are fertility benefits!

As Gulf News says, because fasting regulates your blood sugar and pressure, it reduces inflammation and makes you resistant to disease, which are all obviously great things if you want to get pregnant!

How do I know I’m fasting “right,” then?

Part of what triggers “starvation mode” is, of course, not eating enough calories. It’s so important to make sure you’re consuming enough in your eating window. Be absolutely sure you’re reaching your macros and eating nutrient-dense veggies for carotenoids and fiber…healthy fats to get those essential amino acids…you know the drill! Also, consider supplementing your essential acids even more with BCAAs.

Also, if you’re new to intermittent fasting, ease yourself into it by:

  1. Only fasting a few days a week;
  2. Only fasting for up to 16 hours at first
  3. The super-easy “fasting by skipping breakfast” method (like my 11-7 rule. Sleep from 11 PM – 7 AM. Only eat from 11 AM – 7 PM. Easy enough to remember!)

Don’t restrict OR binge! I have so many ways for you to meet your calorie needs with 3 square meals a day, including tips on which oils you should use with which meats! Get creative with it and you’ll always be satisfied during intermittent fasting.

One last thing, though…

You’re probably already aware that, even though the health benefits of IF are so great and those benefits boost fertility as well, you probably should not be fasting while pregnant. Check in with your doctor and see what they say, but the studies are pretty 50/50 on whether IF during pregnancy is safe. Of course, this doesn’t mean IF is bad, just that eating for two is very different!

Of course, I’ll always advocate for eating lots of eggs, meats, nuts, fish, avocados, healthy oils, and veggies during your pregnancy!

Ask your doctor if you’re experiencing fertility issues and they can recommend a course of action for you, but overall, the science shows that IF should help, not hinder, getting pregnant, as long as you’re getting those calories in!



Dr. Axe

Dr. Axe

Gulf News

Harvard Medical School