Preparation is key prior to fertility treatment

By Sue Bedford (MSc Nutritional Therapy)

One of the most important parts of the Assisted Reproduction (AR) process is in the preparation, not just physically, but also mentally. Out of all probability you wouldn’t go into an important exam without having studied for it so why should preparing for fertility treatment be any different?

It is recommended that you should give yourself around 90 days preparation time prior to starting treatment- however if this can be up to six months- even better! In this article on preparing the body for fertility treatment, we will explore cleansing the body and some dietary ‘tweaks’ that can be made prior to treatment, the aim being to help obtain the best possible outcome.

Ever considered a gentle body system cleanse?

A gentle body system cleanse is a good way to start if you do have time to prep prior to fertility treatment (please note that this should not happen if you think you may be pregnant or during any stage of fertility treatment- always check with your G.P before hand). The basic principle of a cleanse prior to fertility treatment is to remove toxic chemicals from the cells and systems of the body which may disrupt hormones before conception takes place.

The main aim of a body system cleanse is to try to support the main organs in the body that are involved in detoxification (such as the liver, kidneys and skin) by nourishing the body with nutrient rich food whilst avoiding non nourishing drink and food such as alcohol, sugar, white flour products and environmental toxins. Toxins are stored in fat cells, the liver, brain and bone to name a few. The liver is one of the main organs involved in detoxification process and is vital in the breakdown of the products of metabolism, hormones, drugs and alcohol. It is therefore vital to ensure that it is kept as healthy as possible pre- conception/prior to fertility treatment (the liver processes the fertility drugs!).

There are specific toxins that are known to negatively affect fertility such as alcohol, certain medications, toxins found in cigarettes, pesticides, some beauty products and synthetic hormones from the contraceptive pill (just a few examples). It is therefore a good idea to try to remove these from the body to ensure the healthiest possible sperm and egg cells prior to conception (this is equally as important for men and women).

What are the signs to indicate that you may benefit from a ‘gentle cleanse’?

Craving sugar
Feeling tired/sluggish a lot of the time
Have digestive issues such as bloating and constipation
Have skin issues
Mood swings

Some key toxins to remove from the body during a cleanse:

Caffeine – found in tea, coffee, energy drinks, soft drinks (coke, diet coke)
Alcohol (remove anyway from lifestyle if trying to conceive)
Cigarettes (aim to stop smoking altogether if you do smoke)
Refined sugars – sweets, cakes, biscuits, chocolate, soft drinks
Foods containing trans fats
Wheat, gluten, yeast– bread, pasta
Processed foods(theses often contain a lot of salt too)
Spreads – jam, chocolate spreads, peanut butter etc
No artificially produced flavourings: tomato ketchup, vinegar, mustard, etc

Key foods to include in your pre fertility treatment diet

If you eat meat go for organic or grass fed/raised dairy, poultry and meat (but limit red meat) in order to limit exposure to antibiotics and hormones. These are an excellent source of protein, omega 3, iron and vitamin B12. Red meat is a good source of vitamin B12 and iron – always go for grass fed where possible and buy local.
Wild (sustainable) caught fish – aim for 3 portions oily fish per week (salmon, mackerel, sardines. Avoid consuming farmed fish if possible.
Organic eggs – excellent source of  numerous nutrients including protein, vitamin D, choline and B12
Eat whole foods – organic vegetables and fruit,
Choose healthy fats such as olive oil, coconut products etc
Avoid sweets, fast food, additives, preservatives and artificial sweeteners.
Raw foods – plant based as these are rich in nutrients and chlorophyll.
Vegetables – particularly organic dark leafy green vegetables (spinach, broccoli, kale, watercress etc). These are an excellent source of iron, folate, B6, vitamin E and fibre.
Fresh vegetable juices – these contain plenty of vitamin B6 and antioxidants (only 150ml of juices or smoothies per day as fruit and vegetables contain fruit sugar)
Drink plenty of water- add some lemon (at least 2 litres of filtered water per day).
Nuts and seeds – (especially pumpkin, sesame, walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts). These are an excellent source of omega 3, zinc, vitamin E, protein and selenium.
Berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackcurrants and strawberries). These contain high amounts of vitamin C (antioxidants) and flavonoids.
Lentils and beans. Great for balancing blood sugar levels. These contain good amounts of iron, folate and protein.
Low GI (glycemic index) carbohydrates (such as sweet potato, butternut squash, quinoa, brown rice). These are an excellent source of vitamins B and C, vitamin A, magnesium and fibre.

Five foods that help cleanse the body (go for organic where possible)

Apples-contain a good amount of fibre, vitamin C, potassium and many beneficial phytochemicals, flavonoids and terpenoids. These are all useful in the detoxification process. One flavonoid called Phlorizidin, contained in apples, is thought to help stimulate bile production which helps the liver remove toxins. Apples are also a good source pectin (which is a soluble fibre) and can help detox metals and food additives from your body
Avocados contain many vital nutrients and are a good source of: vitamin B5, vitamin K, fibre copper, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin E, potassium, and vitamin C. They also contain many phytonutrients including: carotenoids, flavonoids, phytosterols. They also contain the important fats: oleic acid and alpha – linolenic (an omega 3 fatty acid). Avocados contain a nutrient called glutathione, which blocks at least 30 different carcinogens while helping the liver detoxify synthetic chemicals.
Beetroot – contain a unique mixture of natural plant chemicals (phytochemicals) and minerals that make them superb fighters of infection, blood purifiers, and liver cleansers. They also help boost the body’s cellular intake of oxygen, making beetroot an excellent overall body cleanser.
Broccoli sprouts – contain important phytochemicals that are released when they’re chopped, chewed, fermented, or digested. The substances are released then break down into sulfurophanes, indole-3-carbinol and D-glucarate, which all have a specific role in detoxification.
Coriander – contains large amounts of antioxidants. Coriander helps move mercury and other metals out of the tissue so it can attach to it other compounds and be excreted from the body.

Cleanse Green Soup (Serves 2)

This nutritious and delicious cleansing green soup can be made thin or thick, depending upon the amount of water you add, to suit taste.Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons diced onion

1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

4 cups fresh broccoli, cut up

1/2 pound of fresh spinach leaves

3 parsnips, peeled, cored, chopped

2 ribs of celery, trimmed, chopped

A handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped

Fresh water, as needed

Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste

A squeeze of lemon (optional)


Using a large soup pan heat the olive oil over a medium heat and stir in the garlic, onion, and ginger. Add the broccoli, spinach, parsnips, celery and parsley, and stir until the spinach wilts and collapses. Add just enough water to cover the vegetables.
Bring to a high simmer, cover the pot, and reduce the heat to a medium simmer. Cook for fifteen minutes or until the vegetables have softened. Use a blender/hand blender to puree the soup. Enjoy!

Top tip- you can always add a splash of coconut milk to give an extra creamy taste to your soup.

Green cleanse juice

Ingredients (makes 2)

4 Large Apples
2 Large cooked beetroot
6 Celery Stalks
2 Kale Leaves
Fresh ginger (optional – adjust amount according to taste)
Ice cubes
Splash of sparkling water or apple juice


Chop the apples and beetroot, de-stem the kale leaves and chop too. Place into a juicer together with celery stalks, that have been cut into smaller pieces and add the ginger (optional) together with a splash of water or apple juice. Pour over ice and. Enjoy!

To book a personalised Nutritional Therapy consultation with Sue or for more details please email her

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