Could eating fish get you pregnant faster? Quite possibly, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism in May 2018.
The researchers followed 500 couples based in Michigan and Texas who were all trying to get pregnant. The participants logged their diet and their sexual activity in daily journals, and were followed for up to a year or until they got pregnant.
The data showed that couples who enjoyed more than two servings of seafood per week had more frequent sex than those who ate less seafood.
They also got pregnant faster: after a year, 92 percent of the seafood-loving couples were pregnant, compared to 79 percent of the couples who consumed less seafood.
The researchers found that the correlation between seafood-eating and shorter time to pregnancy couldn’t be explained by the more frequent sexual activity alone. They therefore suggested that eating seafood might influence such biological factors as semen quality, ovulation, or embryo quality.
One of the authors of the study, Audrey Gaskins, Sc.D., said:
Our results stress the importance of not only female, but also male diet on time to pregnancy and suggests that both partners should be incorporating more seafood into their diets for the maximum fertility benefit.
What about mercury?
Clearly, fish and other seafood should be part of your diet while you are trying to conceive. It is also well established that eating fish is important for growth and development during pregnancy and early childhood.
However, concerns about mercury have caused many women to avoid fish and other seafood while they are trying to conceive and during pregnancy.
So how do you know how much fish it is safe and healthy to eat?
If you live in the United States, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have created a reference chart that sorts 62 types of fish and seafood into three categories:
- “Best choices” (eat two to three servings a week)
- “Good choices” (eat one serving a week)
- “Fish to avoid”
The good news is that nearly 90 percent of fish eaten in the United States belong in the “best choices” category, which includes such popular choices as salmon, tuna, lobster, oysters, shrimp and scallops.
Women of childbearing age are, however, advised to avoid seven types of fish that typically have higher mercury levels: tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico, shark, swordfish, orange roughy, bigeye tuna, marlin, and king mackerel.
For more information, check out the FDA’s Resource page.
If you live in another country, check the official recommendations from your health authorities. Here are some examples:
- Australia and New Zealand: FSANZ advice on fish consumption
- Canada: Prenatal Nutrition Guidelines for Health Professionals – Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- UK: The EatWell Guide: Fish and shellfish