Written by: Dr. Jessica Ryniec, a reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist at CCRM Fertility of Boston
Omega-3 fatty acids are an important source of fat for our bodies. They provide us with energy and keep cell walls functioning. Your body can’t produce omega-3s on its own, so you need to get them from food or supplements. There are different types of omega-3s, including DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) which is found mainly in certain types of seafood. DHA is especially important when it comes to fertility health. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in foods such as:
- Fatty fish, (e.g., salmon, cod, herring, and trout)
- Shellfish (e.g., crab, mussels, and oysters)
- Nuts (e.g., walnuts)
- Seeds (e.g., flax and chia seeds)
- Green leafy vegetables
Eating seafood twice a week can help you get the necessary amounts of omega-3s, but many people don’t eat foods high in omega-3s on a regular basis. Luckily, you can take supplements to make up for this. If you are vegetarian or vegan, your diet alone usually is lacking in omega-3, particularly DHA. You can take microalgae supplements to get the necessary omega-3 amounts your body needs.
Omega-3 fatty acids and conceiving
A 2019 study looked at data from 900 women (and 2,510 menstrual cycles) to find out if there was a connection between omega-3 fatty acid supplements and chances of conceiving spontaneously in a given menstrual cycle.
The women were all 30 to 44 years old and had been trying to conceive for less than three months. None of the women had a history of infertility. Researchers adjusted for age, obesity, prior pregnancy, race, and vitamin D intake, and followed up with the women after one year. They found that women who took an omega-3 supplement were almost two times more likely to get pregnant on their own versus the women who didn’t take the supplement.
What does this mean? Taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements can help if you’re trying to get pregnant.
Fertility benefits of omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids is great for your overall health, but there are a lot of benefits when it comes to your fertility and reproductive health, such as:
- Regulating your hormones, which is important for ovulation
- Increasing blood flow to the uterus
- Reducing inflammation in the body
- Improving the ability of the embryo to implant in the uterus
There is also evidence that shows omega-3s are essential to sperm function as they help build the acrosome of the sperm cells. This is the covering over the sperm’s oval head and is what works to break down the outer layer of an egg cell for fertilization.
Omega-3 supplements also help support the formation of the brain and nervous system of a developing baby once you do get pregnant.
How to take omega-3 fatty acids
If you’re looking to improve your health and increase your chances of trying to conceive, both you and your partner can consider taking 1,000mg of omega-3 fatty acids every day. Look for purified fish oil as this gives you the best form of DHA.
Talk with your doctor or fertility specialist before you start omega-3 supplements. Contact us to make an appointment with a CCRM Fertility specialist.