Trying to get pregnant? Here’s some news that could boost your chances. Couples who eat more seafood have more sex and get pregnant more quickly, a recent study has found.
Background: Many people avoid seafood these days—especially when trying to have a baby—because they’re concerned that the mercury in fish is harmful. But seafood is a good source of protein and contains other important nutrients such as heart-healthy omega-3s. Now researchers have discovered that eating the right type of seafood is safe and is actually linked to faster conception in couples who enjoy fish regularly.
Recent research: The study, published in the May 23, 2018, issue of the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, included 501 couples (women were ages 18 to 44) who were trying to conceive. The researchers, from Harvard University and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, asked participants to record their seafood intake and sexual activity in a journal every day for up to a year (or until pregnancy was confirmed).
Study results: Of the couples in which at least one partner ate seafood less than twice a week, 79% were pregnant at the end of the year…but a whopping 92% of the couples in which both partners consumed seafood two or more times per week were pregnant. The fish-feasting couples also reported having more sex, which one might suspect led to the more impressive conception stats.
However, the additional sexual activity did not completely explain the link between eating seafood and faster conception. The researchers suggest that other factors, such as seafood’s potential effects on semen quality, ovulation and/or embryo quality, could also have played a role. They theorize that seafood’s omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to other reproductive benefits, may be a contributing factor. It’s unclear, however, whether fish oil supplements would confer the same beneficial effects. More research is needed.
Best choices: The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) categorize fish and shellfish into “best choices”…“good choices”…and “fish to avoid.” The agencies recommend that men and women eat two to three servings of a variety of best-choice fish per week. (A typical serving size is four ounces of fish, measured before cooking.)
Good news: Ninety percent of the fish we eat in this country—including catfish…cod…flounder…oysters…pollock…salmon (wild and Alaskan, canned or fresh)…shrimp…tilapia…sardines…and tuna (canned light)—falls into the “best choice” category.
All types of fish contain at least trace amounts of mercury, which can harm the brain and nervous system if consumed in excess amounts over time. There are seven fish, however, that have higher mercury levels and should be avoided, according to the FDA and EPA. These are tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico…shark…swordfish…orange roughy…bigeye tuna…marlin…and king mackerel.
Bottom line: A healthy diet for both partners, not just the women, is important when you’re trying to start a family…and incorporating more seafood into your diet may hasten conception. It may even increase the frequency of sexual activity, which is definitely worth a trip to the local fish market!