Can Drinking Milk Increase Fertility?

Any couple trying to conceive has heard the old wives tales about what foods to eat and what not to eat, and it’s certainly a topic that should be discussed. Obviously, some women are going to get pregnant regardless of what they eat, but couples who are struggling to conceive are continuously searching for answers. There is research, though, that demonstrates that your fertility could well depend on what you eat, and that consuming some foods and avoiding others can encourage conception. What is important is that both partners consume a nutritious, balanced diet and avoid fast food and junk food.

What About Milk?

In the past, nutritionists and medical practitioners would probably have suggested that you only consume skim milk and low-fat dairy products; however, today’s doctors and nutritionists are more aware of just how important healthy fats are to our general good health – like the fats found in milk. The benefits of these fats to women trying to conceive cannot be over-emphasised, and it’s now believed that women can lower their risk of infertility by consuming moderate amounts of whole milk and other dairy products.

Ovulatory Infertility and Whole Milk

Ovulatory disorders represent the main cause of infertility. Many studies have shown that there’s a definite link between full-fat milk and other full-fat dairy products and a reduced chance of ovulatory infertility. And we know that when healthy fats are included in our diet it’s a natural way of regulating our appetite and staying healthy. It follows, then, that consuming a diet of full-fat dairy products like cheese, yogurt, and milk, would be the perfect long-term plan for couples trying to conceive. Consuming full-fat dairy products will therefore not only help you maintain a healthy balanced diet, it will increase your chances of achieving and maintaining a healthy pregnancy.

Other things couples can consume to help with fertility include leafy green vegetables, whole grains, and yams. These 3 foods help address infertility in approx. 40% of women who suffer infertility due to anovulation.

What About Non-Fat Milk?

We now know that low or non-fat milk can affect your fertility in a negative way. The reason is that, when dairy producers remove the fat from full-cream milk, they also remove progesterone and estrogen and leave a higher proportion of male hormones and androgens. The result is a hormonal imbalance, created by regularly drinking and consuming non-fat dairy products.

Couples trying to conceive a baby should not only choose whole milk products, they should also try to locate organic products. Some couples trying to conceive choose to consume raw milk to ensure they’re getting all the natural milk ingredients.

Is There a Limit to How Much Dairy I Should Consume?

The general guideline for couples trying to get pregnant, is that every day they should consume 1-2 servings of full-fat dairy. Now you can enjoy your favourite Greek yoghurt, some tasty cheddar cheese, or a delicious banana and full fat milk smoothie! If you’re not a milk drinker, good options for you would be whole milk cheeses, ice creams, and yoghurts. However, always  keep in the back of your mind that ice cream and other sugary foods should be consumed in moderation.

It’s All about the Calcium!

When talking about the process of conception, calcium is key. Consuming calcium ensures a healthy reproductive system, which leads to the birth of a healthy baby. Calcium assists spermatozoids in swimming, it triggers growth in the embryo, and it’s a vitally important component in creating an alkaline environment in the reproductive tract.

Raw Milk

If you’re trying to conceive and you consume raw milk, note that one quart of raw milk contains 900mg of food-based calcium. This is almost the entire daily amount of calcium you need when trying to conceive.

Conceive Plus

The fertility lubricant known as Conceive Plus can also help couples trying to conceive because it’s the only known fertility lubricant that contains ions of calcium. Unlike regular lubricants, Conceive Plus is pH balanced and isotonic, imitating the body’s own natural fluids. Conceive Plus supports fertility because it contains calcium and magnesium ions, thus increasing the chances of achieving and maintaining a healthy pregnancy.

The benefits of milk for men’s fertility

Milk and other dairy products are not just beneficial for women’s fertility. There is evidence that full-fat dairy can improve sperm health and male fertility as well. The nutrients and hormones found in whole milk are important for optimal testicular function. Several key components of dairy are linked to better semen quality:

  • Zinc – This mineral is essential for sperm development. Milk and cheese are rich sources of zinc. Studies show zinc deficiency is associated with low sperm count and motility.
  • Calcium – Getting adequate calcium is vital for sperm motility. It provides energy for sperm cells to move. Whole milk has lots of bioavailable calcium.
  • Vitamin D – Often called the “sunshine vitamin”, vitamin D is also found in eggs and dairy. It is needed for sperm formation and motility. Low vitamin D in men is linked to poor semen quality.
  • Folic acid – Milk is a source of folic acid or vitamin B9. Folic acid helps sperm production and low levels are tied to reduced sperm count.
  • L-carnitine – This compound found in dairy foods like yogurt helps sperm cells gain energy and swim better. Studies indicate L-carnitine boosts sperm motility.

In addition to vitamins and minerals, whole milk contains reproductive hormones like oestrogen and progesterone. The presence of these hormones in dairy foods may support sperm production and development.

For optimal male fertility, the key is moderation. Large amounts of milk or dairy could potentially have an anti-fertility effect by increasing oestrogen levels too much. But 1-2 servings of whole milk or full fat dairy per day provides fertility benefits for men without the risks.

The best dairy choices are organic and raw when possible, to avoid added hormones and contaminants that could be in conventional milk. Also opt for grass-fed over grain-fed dairy if you can, for more omega-3s and nutrients.

When to avoid milk and dairy

While the fertility-enhancing benefits of milk are clear for most, there are some situations when dairy should be limited or avoided:

  • Allergies and sensitivities – If either partner has a diagnosed milk allergy or intolerance, dairy should be avoided. Common signs of dairy sensitivity include bloating, gas, diarrhea after consuming milk or cheese.
  • Very high or uncontrolled cholesterol – Whole milk dairy contains cholesterol, so excess could be problematic in this scenario. Opt for low fat dairy instead or limit intake.
  • Estrogen-sensitive cancers – With hormonally influenced cancers like prostate or breast cancer, the growth factors in milk may need to be limited.
  • Endometriosis – Some research indicates dairy products, especially cheese, may worsen endometriosis symptoms. Many doctors advise women with endometriosis to go dairy-free.
  • Ovarian cysts – There are mixed opinions on this, but some fertility specialists recommend avoiding dairy to help shrink ovarian cysts.
  • Thyroid issues – The proteins in milk may aggravate autoimmune thyroid problems like Hashimoto’s. Consider removing dairy for 30 days to see if it provides relief.
  • Digestive disorders – Lactose intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other gut issues mean dairy is poorly digested. Temporary removal may help improve symptoms.

For those who need to avoid milk, focus on other calcium-rich foods like dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds, fortified non-dairy milks and yogurt alternatives. Work with your doctor to ensure adequate nutrients for fertility.

Photo credit; “Milk” by Anthony Cunningham for Zoom Baby

Zoom Baby is a leading supplier of Pregnancy Tests and Ovulation Test Kits

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