Timing is a big factor when it comes to getting pregnant… just ask any woman tracking their fertile window or scheduling their IVF cycle.
But have you ever wondered about the best season of the year to conceive?
We all have our favorite seasons – ours just so happen to be the fall!
So we decided to do a little research on the fertility of the fall season and present some of our favorite fall foods for fertility.
We’ll spare you the talk about the birds and the bees and how certain animal species have seasonal mating patterns… this isn’t that kind of blog anyways.
When it comes to looking at how seasons affect fertility, Traditional Chinese medicine offers interesting insight where Western medicine tends to lack hard evidence.
According to Traditional Chinese medicine, there are energetic cycles of the universe – also known as yin and yang – that rise and fall throughout the year.
Female energy rises in early autumn and peaks around the winter solstice, whereas male energy begins in the spring and peaks around the summer solstice. This means that according to Traditional Chinese medicine, the most fertile seasons for women are autumn and winter.
One possible explanation for this fertility seasonality – based on energy – could be related to the fact that the autumn and winter months are cooler and ovulation occurs at lower body temperatures.
Let’s shift gears for a moment and look at this concept from a Western medicine perspective…
There are a lot of studies that look at seasonal patterns in births. But as Dr. Eskew likes to remind me, many of these studies don’t take into account when couples start trying, how long they take to conceive, or how long pregnancies last.
Interestingly enough, a group of researchers at Boston University School of Public Health looked into the matter of fertility and seasonality more rigorously.
What researchers found was that fecundability (likelihood of achieving a pregnancy per menstrual cycle) was highest in the fall and lowest in the spring, with stronger effects noted in the southern latitudes of North America. In fact, seasonal variability in the southern United States approached 45% with a peak in quick conceptions in late November.
So is the fall season really the best time to conceive…?
Given that there are so many time-related factors that contribute to getting pregnant, we might not be able to truly ever identify the best month (or season) for getting pregnant.
Science aside… you are entitled to your favorite season and you should find ways to enjoy the special elements of that season with your partner… cause the more intimate time you spend together, the more likely you are to conceive 🙂
It should come as no surprise that one of our favorite things about fall is the seasonal change of food!
Fall is a season abundant with foods that vitalize and nourish our health – from complex carbohydrates to root vegetables, there are so many pro-fertility foods to enjoy.
Looking back at the Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, seeds, beans, legumes, and berries are all foods that contain the potential for a new life.
So let’s take a look at some of our favorite fall foods that just so happen to be good for your reproductive health (and overall wellness too!)
Brussel sprouts are little nutrient powerhouses, providing a range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and a little bonus plant protein.
Each half-cup (78-gram) cooked serving provides 81% of your daily vitamin C needs, which is a potent antioxidant that can neutralize the free radicals that cause inflammation.
Brussels sprouts are also one of the best plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids, with 135 mg of ALA in each half-cup (78-gram) serving of cooked Brussels sprouts.
Recipe Tip: One of the most delicious ways to enjoy Brussels sprouts is oven-roasted. Simply slice in half (or quarter), lightly toss in extra virgin olive (EVOO), sea salt, and black pepper, spread evenly on baking pan, and roast in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes at 400 degrees until the outer leaves are golden and slightly crisp.
Similar to Brussels sprouts, kale is a cruciferous vegetable with many pro-fertility nutrients.
Kale is packed with iron which helps with the formation of hemoglobin and enzymes, transports oxygen to various parts of the body, and aids in cellular growth. As an added bonus, plant-based iron has been associated with a reduced risk of ovulatory infertility.
Kale is also filled with fiber and sulfur, both great for supporting your body’s natural detoxification process and keeping your liver healthy, which is important for hormonal balance.
Recipe Tip: Kale is a great base for any salad. Simply massage (coat and cover each leaf) the shredded kale leaves with extra virgin olive (EVOO), add lemon juice, sea salt, and red pepper flakes to taste and let stand for 20 minutes before adding your favorite toppings.
Pumpkin seeds contain two important micronutrients for fertility – zinc and vitamin E.
Zinc is a trace mineral found in high levels in pumpkin seeds, which has been linked to sperm maturation, especially when combined with selenium.
Vitamin E acts as a potent antioxidant that as mentioned previously is important for neutralizing free radicals and inflammation.
Recipe Tip: Pepitas, the shell-free version of pumpkin seeds, are great for sprinkling on your favorite salad or even on guacamole. Otherwise, be sure to scoop out those pumpkin seeds when you carve your pumpkin this year. 🙂 Once cleaned and dried, toss with olive oil and sea salt, spread evenly onto a baking sheet, and roast at 300 degrees Fahrenheit until golden. Enjoy plain as a snack or on a salad!
Pomegranates are rumored to increase fertility and enhance sexual performance among women.
Although we can’t find much in the way of direct evidence supporting these claims, pomegranates are an excellent source of antioxidants as well as vitamin C, vitamin E, and folic acid.
We’ve also seen claims that pomegranates can help improve sperm quality and erectile dysfunction… However, these studies aren’t the highest quality (animal model and pilot study without statistical significance, respectively). Either way, it probably wouldn’t hurt for your male partner to grab a serving or two.
Recipe Tip: Try deseeding your pomegranate in a bowl of water to prevent from making a mess and then mix them in with your morning smoothie or as a topping for your granola.
If you’ve read a blog or two about fertility superfoods, then you’ve probably come across sweet potato yams.
But here’s the thing… sweet potatoes are not a type of yam, and yams are not a type of sweet potato… And despite what you may read, there is no solid evidence that either will boost your fertility.
So when it comes to yams vs. sweet potatoes, we prefer sweet potatoes as they carry spices better than traditional yams and they have a better glycemic profile.
Recipe Tip: Cut them into wedges, coat with extra virgin olive (EVOO), sea salt, black pepper, cumin, and paprika. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes at 400 degrees and enjoy 🙂
These certainly aren’t the only health fall foods to choose from, they just happen to be some of our favorites. Other fall fertility foods to enjoy:
There are so many fall recipes that support fertility to choose from, but one of our favorites (or should we say Dr. Haas’ favorites) is kale and white bean soup.
The best thing about this soup?
There are so many different varieties of and substitutions that you’ll surely find the exact recipe for you and your partner.
As members of our Fertility Optimization Programs know, we believe it’s important to have some go-to inspiration when it comes meal-time in addition to your favorite staples.
And whether you choose to get fancy and incorporate some pro-fertility superfoods or just keep it simple with some good old fashioned comfort foods, stick to the basic principles of a fertility diet and enjoy the foods of the fall season!
Looking for additional inspiration?
See below for some of our favorites:
Spicy Black Bean And Lentil Chili by Half Baked Harvest
Superfood Lentil Soup by Luminberry
Instant Pot Cauliflower & Butternut Thai Curry by Oh She Glows
No matter what your favorite season or where you are on your fertility journey, the fall is a great time to enjoy some pro-fertility foods. Eating foods in season also has the added bonus of being fresher with a bolder flavor.
So be sure to enjoy carving a pumpkin with your partner or getting creative in the kitchen as you spend some quality time together as another season changes.
Whenever you’re ready, join us as we help women trying to conceive optimize their fertility with just a spoon and fork…
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