Should I eat Fish or Not When Trying to Conceive or if you are Pregnant?
- A study shows that a diet rich in seafood could help women conceive.
- Getting 2-3 servings of fish a week has been shown to help couples get pregnant – if it is a part of the diet of both partners.
- However, they couples need to be careful to avoid fish that have high levels of mercury like swordfish, tuna, and mackerel.
Can eating fish help you get pregnant?
The 2018 study found that couples who eat two or more servings of fish or seafood per week while trying to get pregnant had a significantly higher conception rate within one year than couples who ate less fish and seafood. reseaches found that 92 percent of the participants who ate seafood more than twice a week were pregnant at the end of one year, compared to 79 percent of couples who ate less seafood.
A key explanation for why the couples who ate seafood became pregnant was that they had a higher frequency of sexual intercourse.
The reason for why eating fish and seafood results in a faster time to pregnancy was not totally explained by the couples engaging in sexual activity more frequently. This suggests that there are further biological benefits provided by eating fish. These could include effects on semen quality, ovulation or embryo quality.
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Should you eat fish if you are pregnant?
There is an increasing awareness about the dangers of eating fish during pregnancy due to exposure to mercury. Governments have made efforts to reduce mercury exposure for pregnant women by focusing on limiting fish consumption to limit mercury exposure. The negative impact of this has been that women now eat less than the recommended amount of fish, missing out on the positive contribution of fish to nutritional quality.
Fish and seafood are part of a healthy diet and provide key nutrients during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and early childhood. Fish intake during pregnancy is recommended because scientific evidence shows it can help your baby’s cognitive development.
The key nutrients found in fish and seafood that support a child’s brain development are:
- Omega-3 (called DHA and EPA) and omega-6 fats
Choline also supports development of the baby’s spinal cord. Fish and seafood also provide iron and zinc to support children’s immune systems. Fish are a source of other nutrients like protein, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and selenium.
50 percent of pregnant women still eat far less than the recommended amount.
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Dietary Guidelines for Americans, “Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee” 2020, https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/2020-advisory-committee-report
FDA, “Advice about eating fish” https://www.fda.gov/food/consumers/advice-about-eating-fish
Gaskins AJ, et al, “Seafood Intake, Sexual Activity, and Time to Pregnancy” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 103, Issue 7, July 2018 https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/103/7/2680/5001729?login=true
Taylor CM, et al “A review of guidance on fish consumption in pregnancy: Is it fit for purpose?” Public Health Nutr. 2018 Aug, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6033312/