Healthy Kitchens Healthy Lives

My friend, Dr. Nicole Avena’s latest article


I have known Dr. Avena since 2009-time flies! This is her latest article on Infertility in Psychology Today.

Why Aren’t We Talking About Infertility?

One in five women is unable to get pregnant within the first year of trying.


  • Infertility has been a taboo topic, but our generation is breaking the silence.
  • There are many reasons for infertility, and in some cases, the cause isn’t clear.
  • There is an overwhelming amount of research on the links between nutrition and fertility.

June is World Infertility Awareness month and as someone who has experienced secondary infertility myself, I know firsthand how hard it can be to talk about. Infertility has been seen as a taboo topic for decades, and our generation of women is breaking the silence. According to the CDC, one in five women are unable to get pregnant within the first full year of actively trying—that means one in every five of your closest girlfriends, sisters, cousins or coworkers has struggled with infertility, and the numbers are only on the rise. Why? What do we lack, or have an abundance of, that makes it so hard for women to conceive?

There are many reasons for infertility, and in some cases, the cause is clear and there isn’t much you can do lifestyle-wise to fix it. However, in many cases, it isn’t clear why a couple is experiencing infertility. I study the effects of nutrition on health for a living, and I have had a pretty healthy lifestyle to begin with. When I wasn’t able to get pregnant and the doctors didn’t have a good reason for why this was happening, I started asking myself if there was something that I could do, or not do? I started paying even more careful attention to the research studies about fertility. I also started to take a very critical look at what I was eating and putting in (and on) my body and realized that the ingredients were potentially harmful to not only my health but also to a growing baby. I started to clean up my (and my husband’s) diet and lifestyle even more. And, eventually, we got pregnant.

While we don’t often hear about it in the mainstream media, there is an overwhelming amount of research on nutrition and fertility. While there may not be a one-size-fits-all plan, the evidence-based recommendations are clear when you look at the research. For example, higher intakes of omega-3 fatty acids, folate, and fiber are consistently linked to an increased chance of getting pregnant, having a successful pregnancy and a lower chance of suffering from infertility. For men, clinical research shows that they can add foods rich in zinc (like oysters), selenium (like sunflower seeds and certain mushrooms), and vitamin C to help improve sperm motility and mobility.

It is possible for women to overcome the emotional, physical, and mental burden that comes with the inability to conceive.



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