As a fertility specialist, one of the most common questions I get is about diet, what can changes can I make in my diet to help me get pregnant?
For some patients, particularly those with PCOS that answer is relatively simple. It well know that a diet high in protein and low in carbohydrates helps women with polycystic ovaries to conceive.
For other women with infertility, the answer is less clear.
A recent study from Greece, looked at women who self-reported at following a "mediterranean diet." Women on a Mediterranean diet had a higher pregnancy rate that those who did not.
Does this prove that a diet in low in animal fats and high in vegetables and fruit can help you get pregnant? No, but it does suggest a health diet low in carbs and red meats may help your chances of having a baby.
Could one of the compounds found in red wine help women with PCOS?
Yes, it actually might help women with polycystic ovarian syndrome.
What is resveratrol?
Reservatrol belongs to a group of chemicals call polyphenols which are commonly thought to act as antioxidants. It is found in the skin of grapes, as well is in peanuts and some berries. Most resveratrol supplements sold in the US, actually come from a plant grown in Asia, rather than from grapes. It has been used as a supplement to help inflammation and diabetes.
Why might resveratrol be helpful for with PCOS?
Polycystic ovarian syndrome is the most common hormone disorder in women of reproductive age, and a common cause for infertility. The symptoms of PCOS are largely related to irregular cycles and excess levels of male-like hormones, but the underlying cause is related to how the body handles sugars. Most women with PCOS have a condition called insulin resistance as the reason for their disorder, and diabetes drugs such as Metformin are commonly used as treatment. Since resveratol can help women with diabetes, it is possible that it may help women with PCOS as well.
A new study suggests resveratrol may be helpful.
Researchers at University of California- San Diego took women with confirmed PCOS and gave them resveratol supplements to see what would happen. They found that these patient's levels of male hormone including testosterone dropped significantly, suggesting that resveratrol may be doing this by reducing insulin resistance. The researchers did not look at whether their cycles became more irregular or more fertility.
So, should I start drinking red wine if I have PCOS and want to get pregnant?
Not a great idea, at least when you are or might be pregnant. It is possible (but still unproven at this time) that resveratrol may help promote fertility in women with PCOS. On the other hand, it is well known that alcohol, including red wine, when consumed by pregnant women can increase the risk of serious birth defects. It may be reasonable to have red wine before conception, but no OBGYN or Fertility Specialist would recommend you drink once you might be pregnant.