Fertility and the vegan diet

Are vegan women less likely to conceive?

By Janey Macleod

My friend Dina spent three year trying to start a baby. Both she and her husband William are vegan, and at one point she asked me if their diet might be affecting their fertility.

This surprised me, as I had never heard any suggestion that vegan women are less fertile than any others. But I did a little research, and found several books and articles which suggested that some vegan women might take longer than average to conceive.

The reason is that vegans tend to consume higher-than-average amounts of soy. Some researchers believe that the phytoestrogens found in soy products can lead to longer menstrual cycles and less frequent ovulation. It's not that eating these products makes it harder for you to conceive; it's just that you have fewer opportunities to do so.

We are talking here about quite large amounts of soy - the equivalent of three glasses of soy milk per day. To keep it in perspective, smoking and alcohol are thought to decrease the chances of conception by a similar margin, as does a high intake of caffeine.

If you are vegan and are having difficulty in becoming pregnant, it would do no harm to reduce your consumption of soy. In general, though, your vegan diet should give no cause for concern when it comes to fertility.

Dina and William will confirm the truth of that statement. Dina is now in the third month of her pregnancy.

May 2003

Please note: Neither Veg World nor its contributors are qualified to give medical or nutritional advice. If in doubt, always consult a suitably-qualified professional.

If you found this article helpful, please tell your friends: