intermittent fasting pregnancy
Image: Isabela Martins via Unsplash

Is Intermittent Fasting Better or Worse for Fertility?

Although it's been around for a while, there's not too much research around on humans, and they're mainly on those who were assigned male at birth.

Dieting fads come and go, but one certain way of eating has stuck around for a number of years. Intermittent fasting, reducing your calorie intake, or the period of time where you can eat is becoming increasingly popular. Although it’s been around for a long time (since we were bacteria, our cells have “fasted” to reverse or stop DNA breakdown), there’s not too much research around on humans, and they’re mainly on those who were assigned male at birth. While some research suggests fasting benefits metabolism, heart health, and cognition, and reduces inflammation, there needs to be more on what happens to women when they fast. Some say that it can benefit fertility, but some say that signs lead to it reducing your ability to have a child. We did some extensive research to find out. Keep reading for more!

intermittent fasting
Image: Alexander Krivitskiy via Unsplash

Why it Could Be Worse for Fertility?

Intermittent fasting could be harmful to a woman’s fertility because of the effects it has on the period. For ovulation to occur regularly, you need to consume enough energy and have adequate body fat. According to The Dietologist, the effects fasting has on your body are similar to birth control! “Your brain essentially thinks the body is in ‘danger’ and conserves energy by reducing estrogen and progesterone as the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis goes into snooze mode. This means ovulation won’t occur, and your periods may become irregular or disappear completely (known as hypothalamic amenorrhea). “ Basically, you could be restricting your hormones of what they need, and the balance that they need to have for your cycle to be regular.

According to Well + Good and Dr. Styer of CCRM Fertility, “the female pituitary gland can sense calorie intake. Below a certain level, it can create a signal from the brain for ovulation to be reduced or absent.” He says that although it’s pretty clear that the formula for a baby is the egg plus sperm, it’s also a precise science of a balance of hormones, ovulation, and your reproductive system being prepared to conceive and carry a child. After all, your body knows what’s best and also what it can handle.

It is not proven that fasting definitely harms your reproductive health, it is important to note. If you are trying to conceive, it’s best to try and have as regular of a cycle as possible and not try to stop regular ovulation. You want to be giving your body nourishment and the best possible environment for a child to develop and grow.

intermittent fasting fertility
Image: Sandra Seitamaa via Unsplash

Why it Could Be Better for Fertility?

For those of us who are struggling with PCOS, intermittent fasting may help with insulin resistance, according to The Dietologist. Because this is common in women with PCOS, fasting may help recalibrate excess weight, energy loss, and balance hormones. While there is no scientific research to say what works best, this is something that has helped women with PCOS. We recommend consulting with your doctor before taking on any diet or changing your lifestyle.


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