Women planning to go through in-vitro fertilization (IVF) may boost their chances of success if they follow a Mediterranean style diet beforehand. That’s the conclusion from a Greek study of 244 women seeking IVF in Athens, Greece (Karayiannis et al, Human Reproduction, Jan. 30, 2018).

How Did the Study Work?

The investigators evaluated the volunteers’ diets before the treatment and determined how closely they adhered to a Mediterranean diet pattern. They quantified this with a MedDietScore ranging from 0 to 55. Higher scores signify better adherence to a Mediterranean diet. Then the investigators followed up with the women to assess their success with IVF.

What Is IVF?

When a couple is having difficulty conceiving naturally, doctors can offer them in vitro fertilization. In this procedure, an egg (from the mother or from another woman who donates her healthy eggs) is combined with sperm in a clinical laboratory. The resulting embryos are tested to determine viability, and a viable embryo is implanted into the mother’s uterus.

At this point, ideally, the mother’s body is prepared to nurture the embryo so that it grows just as if it had been fertilized inside her. But the same difficulties that can beset any pregnancy may also occur after IVF. That’s why the scientists looked at the rates of live births as well as the rates of confirmed pregnancy.

How Does a Mediterranean Diet Influence IVF Success?

Younger women whose diets were least comparable to a classic Mediterranean pattern had lower rates of pregnancy (29%) and also of live birth (26.6%). In contrast, those with the highest MedDietScores had a 50% rate of clinical pregnancy and 48.8% live birth.

There was no significant association between diet and IVF success in women over 35. This may reflect the more complicated circumstances surrounding fertility as women grow older.

The investigators point out that an observational study such as this cannot determine causality. Nonetheless, they suggest that sticking to a Mediterranean diet might improve a woman’s chance of success with IVF. Since following a Mediterranean diet has numerous other health benefits, we couldn’t disagree.

Learn More:

We have written about the benefits of a Mediterranean-style pattern of eating for blood sugar control, cognitive function and bone health.

If you would like some help learning how to follow a Mediterranean diet yourself, you may be interested in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies. It contains instructions and a few recipes that can get you started eating more vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains. A Mediterranean diet also contains less meat and fewer sweets than most Americans are accustomed to eating.

Get The Graedons' Favorite Home Remedies Health Guide for FREE

Join our daily email newsletter with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies AND you'll get a copy of our brand new full-length health guide — for FREE!

  1. Sally

    I’m past the stage of having children but I find this very interesting.

What Do You Think?

We invite you to share your thoughts with others, but remember that our comment section is a public forum. Please do not use your full first and last name if you want to keep details of your medical history anonymous. A first name and last initial or a pseudonym is acceptable. Advice from other commenters on this website is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. Stopping medication suddenly could result in serious harm. We expect comments to be civil in tone and language. By commenting, you agree to abide by our commenting policy and website terms & conditions. Comments that do not follow these policies will not be posted. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Your cart

Shipping and discount codes are added at checkout.