Unexplained infertility – and pomegranates…

800px-Granadas_-_PomegranatesI’ve had a few queries recently about foods or therapies that might boost your fertility for those who don’t have a proven cause, and it struck me that the important thing to remember about unexplained infertility is that it is only “unexplained” because doctors can’t find a cause – it doesn’t mean that there isn’t one!

Unexplained infertility is a frustrating diagnosis, and it is very tempting to try to find your own cause – is it stress, working too hard, eating the wrong things? Once you start searching, the potential causes are apparently never ending – as is the amount of money you can spend trying to reverse them. The number of fertility “experts” offering all kinds of therapies and support seems to increase daily and it is important to think before you opt for using their services or their expertise and apply the same kind of discretion that you would when purchasing anything else.

As attractive as it may sound, no amount of relaxation or diet change is going to unblock a fallopian tube or reverse an early menopause. Most people are only too aware of that, but it’s those whose fertility is unexplained who are more vulnerable to the idea that the chances of getting pregnant could be influenced by changing the way you think or what you eat.

Changing your diet and lifestyle so that you feel fit and healthy when you’re trying to conceive is an excellent thing to do, but it’s simply not true that eating specific foods will make your fertility treatment succeed. I read an article from a national newspaper this morning with a list of foods to “boost” fertility – in the comments underneath someone had suggested that one of them was traditionally used to terminate pregnancies.

Punica_granatum_3I thought it couldn’t possibly be true, but a bit of googling did find some evidence that perhaps it might not be the top fertility food suggested – for the record, it was pomegranate, which the article had listed as a fertility booster. Although the juice and fruit is thought to be fine, animal studies have found that pomegranate seed extract can stimulate uterine contractions – see this research from the University of Maryland and this from the University of Liverpool. In reality, eating a pomegranate is certainly not going to stop you getting pregnant and there is no evidence to suggest you should avoid pomegranates when you are trying to conceive – but equally, it’s possibly a rather strange choice to list as a “fertility booster”.

This illustrates very clearly the kind of difficulty people face when trying to make sense of the frequently conflicting evidence about how to boost your fertility – and explains why it’s often best to take any such advice with a large pinch of salt…