Sugar + Fertility: Too Sweet to Conceive

How can something sweet make life turn sour when trying to conceive? It all comes down to the biology of how the body reacts to sugar and the consequences that follow.

How sugar works.

When sugar enters the body, insulin is triggered. The role of insulin in the body is to carry sugar to cells so they can use them for energy. That sounds like a good thing! We need glucose (sugar) for energy, but many of us consume too much of it. That’s where the trouble starts.

When processed sugars are eaten, insulin levels spike and flood the body. For purposes of fertility, they can interfere with the process of egg maturation. Insulin and hormones that make egg cells mature are so chemically similar, that when there is too much insulin in the bloodstream, the body confuses the insulin with the egg-maturing hormones, causing the levels to lower. Consistent occurrence of this may cause the amount of maturing eggs to decrease and interfere with ovulation.

Plus, when your hormone production is stunted, too much testosterone is released by the body which can lead the woman to develop PCOS, which makes conceiving difficult.

person holding an ice cream cone with strawberry ice cream

Should I cut out all sugar from my diet?

Sugar is needed to fuel the body. In fact, the brain needs 100-150 grams of glucose to function every day. As mentioned earlier, it is needed by every cell in the body as an energy source. When you eat processed sugars such as candy, high fructose corn syrup, or juices, you’re missing a fiber component that acts as a shield that helps slowly diffuse sugar into the bloodstream at a steady pace. When sugar enters the system in the purest form with no fiber surrounding it, that’s when insulin levels spike and can cause havoc on the body due to complications of insulin resistance. That’s when your body doesn’t respond to insulin as it should.

What should I eat and what should I cut down on?

Eating complex carbs is recommended when making dietary choices. First, make simple swaps. For example, instead of opting for white bread, opt for whole-grain bread. In addition, consider choosing healthier options to traditional favorites. If you like to eat sugary cereals, try switching to ones that are high in fiber or hot cereals like oatmeal.

Pay attention to the things you eat. If you find that you have a sweet tooth and are consuming a candy bar every day, or putting sugar in your coffee every day, try cutting it down to just a few days a week. Initially, it may be difficult to do so but after a few weeks of practicing this self-discipline, it won’t be missed.

Finally, once your taste buds no longer have such a high threshold for sweet taste, you will be better able to appreciate foods with naturally occurring sugar like fresh fruit or even sweeter vegetables like tomatoes or sweet bell peppers. They provide carbohydrates that will keep you running all day and keep insulin at healthy levels.

When should you see a fertility specialist?

If you have been trying to conceive for more than six months or are a female 35 years of age or older, we recommend you make an appointment with a fertility specialist. At Island Fertility, we perform several tests to assess your fertility and pinpoint the issue.

Call Island Fertility of Commack today at (631) 638-4600 to schedule your appointment.

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