So often we feel a lack of control during the two week wait and feel as though all we can do is… well, wait. But did you know there are foods to help implantation success? Rather than focusing on restriction during the two week wait, feel more in control as you focus on foods you can add into your diet to increase implantation success!
In our last blog post, How to Improve Egg Quality: 5 Dietitian Approved Ways to Naturally Increase Egg Quality, we talked about ways to improve egg quality. Today we’re going to be talking about 9 foods you can incorporate into your fertility routine to help with implantation. Utilizing foods to help implantation and boost egg quality could be very beneficial to your fertility journey if you’re currently trying to conceive!
Disclaimer: If you’re experiencing infertility, we always recommend speaking to your OBGYN and/or Registered Dietitian (RD) before trying anything new.
On your journey to try to conceive and looking for more guidance to optimize your hormones and fuel your fertility? Check out our Guide to Fuel Your Fertility and Optimize Your Hormonal Health so you know exactly what to eat for easy conception and a healthy pregnancy.
What is implantation?
Setting your body up for a proper and healthy implantation is important in safeguarding a successful pregnancy. But what is implantation exactly and when does it occur? Implantation is simply the attachment of a fertilized egg to the uterine wall and is when pregnancy has officially begun.
Once ovulation has occurred an egg must first be fertilized. After an egg is fertilized and turns into a blastocyst, implantation can occur, typically 6 to 12 days after ovulation.
However, successful implantation relies on a multitude of factors including ovarian hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, growth factors, and other genes and signaling molecules. Even with natural conception, the maximum chance of a successful pregnancy occurring in a given menstrual cycle is about 30%, with about two-thirds of lost pregnancies due to implantation failure.
The good news: you can increase your implantation chances naturally through optimizing your hormones!
Progesterone is a hormone that is essential to achieve and maintain a healthy pregnancy. It aids in thickening the uterine lining to develop the characteristics needed for successful implantation of the embryo. In the second half of the menstrual cycle – the luteal phase, post-ovulation – progesterone has the role of preparing the endometrium for receiving fertilized eggs. If implantation is successful and pregnancy develops, progesterone continues to support the uterine lining. Pregnancy is generally dependent on proper progesterone production for the first 10 weeks of gestation.
If you have a short luteal phase, you may not be producing adequate progesterone levels, and therefore may not be able to support implantation.
Curious about how you can optimize your hormones for a successful implantation? Let’s dive into how you can support a healthy implantation naturally with foods!
What nutrients help with implantation?
Focusing on foods that are nutritionally dense will aid in your overall health and wellness, which is essential in safeguarding your reproductive health.
But, what specific nutrients and foods help implantation most? Let’s dive in!
Antioxidants are great at reducing inflammation throughout the body and can be beneficial in boosting reproductive efforts. Popular antioxidants include vitamin C, E, and beta-carotene.
Antioxidants work by reducing reactive oxygen species (ROS) which contribute to oxidative stress. ROS are generated naturally throughout the pre-implantation period of pregnancy and are necessary for normal embryo development. However, high levels of ROS reduce embryo viability which could hinder your chances of developing a successful pregnancy. Antioxidants help directly protect the embryo from oxidative damage, which is especially apparent during IVF treatments.
Foods rich in antioxidants include berries, leafy greens, citrus fruits, sweet potatoes, and beets.
Anti-inflammatory foods aid in reducing inflammation throughout the body. Prolonged inflammation leads to insulin resistance which can directly hinder fertility efforts. Some risk factors associated with insulin resistance includes irregular ovulation, implantation failure, recurrent miscarriages, and development of conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis.
Some anti-inflammatory foods include fatty fish, nuts and seeds rich in omega 3’s, fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants, and green tea.
Probiotics + Prebiotics
Probiotic rich foods – such as yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, and kimchi – help keep the gut healthy, which ultimately can aid in keeping your uterus healthy and happy! Probiotics help boost the immune system and reduce inflammation in the gut. It’s best to take probiotics alongside prebiotics to help feeds the healthy bacteria. Prebiotic rich foods include fiber-rich food sources such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Nutrients That Aid In Implantation
Some additional nutrients that aid in implantation include:
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B12
- Omega-3 fatty acids.
Wanting to know where you can get these nutrients from foods in your diet? Next we’ll share 9 foods to help with implantation naturally!
9 Foods to Help with Implantation
Dark Leafy Greens
I’m sure you’re sick and tired of hearing it, but dark leafy greens are the ultimate superfood for fertility! They’re packed with vitamins A, C, and K and also provide small amounts of folate, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, and dietary fiber. All, and I really mean all, of these nutrients can help boost your reproductive health which will improve your egg quality, hormonal health, and ultimately improve uterine health which is an essential part of implantation!
Some of our favorite greens for fertility include spinach, kale, bok choy, and my personal favorite arugula. You can dress these greens up in a multitude of ways to incorporate them into your diet and actually make them enjoyable.
We recommend utilizing a blend of these leafy greens as a salad base and adding a refreshing zesty homemade dressing, topping on nourishing bowls, and adding to your favorite recipes. Find our favorite recipes using dark leafy greens in our complete Luteal Phase Meal Plan found within our Guide to Fuel Your Fertility!
You can also blend up and mask these greens with some delicious fresh fruits by making a smoothie. For some fertility boosting smoothie recipes, check out our 3 Fertility Smoothies to Boost Your Fertility Journey!
Fatty Fish (Tuna & Salmon)
Omega-3 fatty acids (including DHA and EPA) are essential nutrients, especially while trying to conceive. These nutrients can help reduce inflammation while also promoting regulation of hormones to optimize egg quality, optimal uterine lining, and implantation success. By ensuring regular release of the necessary hormones for reproduction – specifically estrogen and progesterone – you can attempt to safeguard your reproductive health and development while trying to conceive.
Fatty fish provide other key nutrients such as selenium, phosphorous, and B vitamins too. Selenium is specifically involved in DNA synthesis which is an essential part of embryo development and implantation.
We recommend combining your favorite leafy greens and enjoying them with some salmon or tuna. Top these with your favorite veggies, nuts and seeds, and an olive oil and lemon dressing and you’ve got yourself a perfect fertility boosting salad!
Citrus fruits are zesty, refreshing, and come packed full of antioxidants. Antioxidants like vitamins C and E can help boost both men’s and women’s fertility outcomes by fighting off those reactive oxygen species we mentioned earlier. Citrus fruit consumption in women can also help boost progesterone, which as we know helps to encourage a thick uterine lining preparing the uterus for successful implantation.
Simply one portion of citrus fruits everyday can boost your chances of implantation. You can do this by snacking on an orange or grapefruit, or incorporating citrus fruit juice throughout the day. Remember those zesty dressings we’ve mentioned, simply add some fresh lime, lemon, or orange juice and zest to the mix for both added flavor and benefit!
Oats are one of my personal favorite whole grains. You can make so many delicious recipes utilizing oats. Not only are they quick, easy, and delicious, oats have been found to assist in embryo implantation!
Whole grains like oats and brown rice are rich in nutrients like vitamin E, folate, zinc, iron, and selenium which all aid the body in implantation efforts.
Chocolate, every girl’s best friend. I’m sure you’ll be happy to hear that dark chocolate can aid in implantation efforts too!
Dark chocolate is rich in nutrients such as magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, and fiber. These nutrients are important for egg and sperm health, egg quality, ovulation, and boost the thickness of the uterine lining.
Another benefit to dark chocolate (as if we need any more convincing to incorporate chocolate into our diets), is that it may improve blood flow by producing nitric oxide. Increasing blood flow can help supply the uterus with oxygen-rich blood and improve overall uterine health and increase chances of implantation.
Look for dark chocolate with >70% cacoa. Pair a square of dark chocolate with a handful of almonds, walnuts, and berries for the ultimate fertility boost!
Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds are rich in many great nutrients for fertility, specifically omega-3 fatty acids. However, certain nuts and seeds – such as sunflower and pumpkin seeds – can help lengthen the luteal phase of a woman’s cycle. Why would we want to lengthen the luteal phase?
The luteal phase of a woman’s cycle occurs after ovulation – days 15 to 28 of a 28 day menstrual cycle – and during this phase progesterone levels rise and estrogen levels fall. Remember that progesterone directly aids in thickening the lining of the uterus which is essential in preparing the uterus for embryo implantation.
Sunflower and pumpkin seeds contain nutrients including zinc, selenium, phytoestrogens, lignans, and omega-3s, which enhance progesterone release and have properties that can also bind excess estrogen.
Interested in learning more about how nuts and seeds can balance out your hormones? Check out our Seed Cycling With The Moon To Optimize Hormonal Health blog post.
Legumes are rich in protein, fiber, and (this one might surprise you) antioxidants! Sources of legumes include chickpeas, lentils, and beans. They’ve been found to have bioactive compounds such as peptides, polyphenols, and saponins, which exhibit antioxidant, antihypertensive, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Shrimp & Oysters
Shrimp and oysters are also rich in zinc. Notice how zinc keeps showing up as a nutrient in this blog post? Remember that implantation is reliant on progesterone and zinc directly helps boost progesterone levels.
Zinc also helps play a role in semen and testosterone production in men! This blog post doesn’t apply to you alone ladies. Share this with the man in your life to boost fertility efforts in both you and your partner!
Bonus, oysters are very romantic. Notorious for being an aphrodisiac, maybe try an oyster themed date night to boost fertility for both you and your partner. Warning, things could get steamy!
Beets are rich in nitric oxide which is a reactive nitrogen species (RNS) that has vital roles in normal reproduction. During reproductive cycles the ovaries undergo structural and functional changes. Nitric oxide aids in boosting blood flow by relaxing blood vessels.
Improved blood flow to the uterine lining can help provide the necessary nutrients needed for growth.
Foods to help implantation for IVF
The endometrium is a highly dynamic tissue and undergoes changes throughout a woman’s lifetime. The foods mentioned above have specific nutrients and phytochemicals that aid in boosting implantation overall. These foods can also be implemented in an effort to supplement the IVF process and prepare the uterus for the artificial intracytoplasmic injections (artificial insemination).
Above, we talk about some of the benefits of beets and how they aid in implantation efforts. Beetroot contains nitric oxide which dilates blood vessels allowing a rich supply of oxygenated blood flow to the uterus. Dark chocolate is another source that is rich in nitric oxide.
Incorporating foods that will boost the flow of oxygen & nutrient-rich blood to the uterus can help supplement women trying to conceive and could help improve chances of IVF success. One study found intake of a beetroot, watermelon, and ginger juice supplementation starting on embryo transfer day may improve embryo implantation into the uterus and increase clinical pregnancy rates.
There is more you can do to increase your chances of conception than to “wait” around during the “two-week wait”. Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods rich in antioxidants and healthy fats can optimize your hormone levels, improve your uterine lining, and help increase implantation success. Check out our Guide to Fuel Your Fertility & Optimize Your Hormones for our complete list of fertility fueling kitchen staples and meal plans for your Follicular and Luteal Phase to optimize your fertility today!
If you are struggling with infertility, talk to your doctor or registered dietitian about incorporating these foods into your fertility routine.