Latest Research: Female Fertility and Dairy
I get a lot of question about what type of fat my clients should consume and to be honest, it’s quite confusing to sort through the research.
Rest assured, I’ve done some extensive research on fertility and found that whole milk, specially for females struggling with infertility, is the way to go.
The research from the Nurses Health Study II (NHS II), a longitudinal health study, found that females who consumed more full-fat dairy were less likely to experience ovulatory infertility. Furthermore, Dr. Walter Willett, a renowned researcher in reproductive health and author of The Fertility Diet, found that hormones are altered within the milk when fat is removed. The ratio of hormones present in the milk that has had fat removed is changed, resulting in a mix of hormones that may not be conducive to ovulation (1).
On the other hand, research varies in support of whole milk for those with male infertility. A recent study found that full fat dairy does not necessarily decrease infertility in makes who struggle with sperm quality (2).
What I Recommend as a Dietitian
First, speak to your own doc or fertility specialist. They are more familiar with your particular situation and can always make the best recommendations for you.
Then, unless contraindicated, switch to whole if you’re a female trying to conceive.
Though there’s definitely a need for more research in this area, it’s a promising start and fairly easy to implement if you’re dealing with ovulatory infertility. Try with shooting for 1-2 servings of whole milk dairy per day, be it in cheese, milk or yogurt form.
Chavarro JE, Willett WC, Skerrett PJ. The Fertility Diet: Groundbreaking research reveals natural ways to boost ovulation and improve your chances of getting pregnant. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2008.
Afeiche MC, Williams PL, Mendiola J, et al. Dairy food intake in relation to semen quality and reproductive hormone levels among physically active young men. Hum Reprod. 2013; 28 (8): 2265-75. doi:10.1093/humrep/det133.