Mon 7 Sept eating for a baby webchat with Yvonne Bishop-West

Back by popular demand is fertility nutritionist Yvonne Bishop-Weston for a webchat 12-1pm on Sept 7th. Yvonne specialises in improving your chances of getting pregnant through nutrition so is an expert in advising how to boost your own and your partner's fertility.


  • Hi Yvonne,

    Thank you for this opportunity.

    I have PCOS and have read alot about following a low GI diet but have also been told by my previous consultant who had a speacial interest in PCOS that it really didn't matter that much, so this has left me confused. I am taking Metformin to help with the weight loss but when i take it, it seems i can't tolerate any fruit, when i eat it i get bad stomach pains and bloat alot, I spoke to my GP she said just not to eat it. I do take a pre-natal supplement though. I am overweight so i am trying to lose weight also, my BMI is about 39, this is the heaviest i have ever been, i can't seem to stick to the well known slimming groups, then i end up gaining more weight. I have now just started to eat healthily but cut portion sizes.

    Can you give me any advice please?

    Thanks so much, Gem x

    [Modified by: Gemsicles on September 07, 2009 09:27 AM]

  • Hi Yvonne,
    Thank you for coming on here to talk to us.
    We have been TTC for 1 yr. I am ovulating fine but my husband has had 2 not too good s/a:
    Count 14 million
    Motility 49%
    Normal morphology 12%
    +++ aglutination

    Count 45 million
    Motility 10%
    Normal morphology 13%
    +++ agglutination
    90% antisperm antibodies

    I know we will probably need IVF, but can you tell me which foods and vitamins may help. I have a long list of vitamins but my husband is reluctant to take too many. Can you tell me which are the keys ones to take and which would be added bonuses please.
    Many Thanks
  • Hi Yvonne

    We've been ttc for a year now and just been referred to a fertility specialist so don't know if there's anything wrong specifically. I'm 32 and he's 34. We're both vegetarian and I suffer from ibs (so can't have too much fibre or it makes me ill). My husband also had a testicle removed due to cancer (no other treatment) so I do worry this may have affected his sperm levels.

    I've heard so many different things about food, but does soya affect fertility? What vitamins should he take? I am already taking Biocare's ante-natal formula & evening primrose oil - is there anything else I should be taking?

  • Hi Gem
    In clinic we often work with women with PCOS. It is thought that many cases of PCOS are related to insulin. Insulin is a hormone which controls blood sugar levels and when blood sugar levels are not well controlled weight gain can occur as excess carbs are stored as fat. Insulin seems to stimulate the production of sex hormones and also reduces the level of carriers which help rid the body of excess hormones. This can lead to high LH so no surge and no or delayed ovulation and increased testosterone and many of the symptoms of PCOS such as hair loss or excess. A glycaemic load diet is definitely worth a try, although insulin is not a factor in every case of PCOS following a GL diet should also help you lose weight which is important as excess body weight worsens the effects of PCOS. I would certainly try to have at least one consultation with a nutritionist who can get you on a balanced GL diet (we can do phone if you are out of London or have no-one in your area) as the ratio of carbs to protein can be hard to get just right as you need enough carbs for fibre, vitamins, minerals and energy but not an excess which may elevate insulin. Eat every 3 hours and have some protein every time you eat, have omega -3 fats but minimise saturated, and avoid processed fats and do exercise as this also supports insulin balance. Stress is also a key factor as it can mobilise blood sugar so also do all you can to get some stress relief and consider testing your stress hormones, cortisol and DHEA. You may find my fertility food wheel at helpful to get you started.
    All the best Yvonne
  • Thanks so much Yvonne for your advice. I have been to a nutritionist but she did not focus on low GI and i found it so strict i could not keep to it. I will consider calling your clinic though, thank you.

    Gem x
  • Hi TBD
    So little support if offered to support male fertility even though there is plenty of evidence that diet can help.
    The sperm must move efficiently in order to be able to swim up the fallopian tube and penetrate the egg. Clumping or agglutination (sticking together) will affect sperm motility. Motility may also be affected by having an excess of saturated and hydrogenated fats in the diet and insufficient essential fats from small-sized (to reduce toxicity) oily fish, nuts, seeds and their oils, especially flax and hemp. Fat imbalance can reduce the flexibility of the sperm tail and their ability to swim.
    The key nutrients to help prevent agglutination and to improve motility are: vitamins C, E, B12 the mineral magnesium. CoQ 10 may also support motility
    The antioxidants vitamins A, C and E and minerals zinc and selenium are important to protect the sperm and increase the number of normal forms.
    Zinc is particularly important for count. The amino acids arginine and cartnitine are also important for count and sperm structure.
    No supplement will be more important than a good diet and the food wheel advice on would help for men too! As long as your husband has no health conditions or medications that prevent him from taking supplements I would go for a fertility multi designed for men plus extra magnesium, vitamin C and an omega-3 supplement. Ideally test which nutrients are most needed to reduce the number of pills and improve his compliance!
    All the best
  • Hi Mrs j36
    I presume your husband has had semen analyses to check all is well and he is making enough healthy sperm? Soya is a tricky one as there is much conflicting evidence. Much of the most negative evidence is either old or related to how soya was produced or the result of animal test so not necessarily relevant. In women soya is likely to balance rather than imbalance sex hormones, in men there is the possibility that soya may increase oestrogen but it may also compete against environmental oestrogen's so my advice would be to include soya as organically grown soya beans in their natural form as whole beans, tofu or tempeh as a valuable protein source but don't use them as your only protein source and also have beans, pulses, nuts and seeds for protein
    All the best
  • Hi, i had an ectopic removed on the 14th august where they also took my right tube. initially the docs said to wait 1 month but the specialist i saw on the 1st september said that physically there are no issues with falling straight away so we have not been using contraception. Is there anytthing that you can recomend to be eating so that we fall pregnant as quickly as possible as i have previously suffered a miscarriage, a chemical pregnancy and now the ectopic. many thanks xx
  • Thanks Yvonne - I love tofu so definitely want to include that more in my diet! He's not been offered semen tests - we've just been told he shouldn't be affected, though my gut feeling after a year and nothing is that maybe they have been, especially as 3 signs point to me ovulating (clear blue monitor, tender breasts and temperature rise). The doctor said I'd be referred and him have tests based on what comes up for me. Am half wondering whether to go private as things seem to take so long otherwise!
  • Hi Claire-ski
    It sounds like you are doing everything right to give IVF the best chance. The odd guilty pleasure should do no harm as long as you minimise the caffeine and alcohol as both can have a strongly negative effect. Also consider testing and supporting your stress hormone balance as stress can use up nutrients fast and affect sex hormone balance. Again see my fertility food wheel on at to check you have all the ideal foods in there
    Good luck
  • Mrs j36

    I forgot to mention there is of course a vegetarian version of the food wheel on

  • Hi again Mrsj36

    Your husband should absolutely have a test, one testicle or 2! Intrusive tests are not usually done on the woman until male issues have been ruled out, I would go back to your GP and ask to have your husbands sperm tested alongside investigations they are doing for you. I would also by the way both take some vegetarian omega-3 fats, please see for suggestions

  • It's 1pm so no more questions please - many thanks to Yvonne for fabulous advice as ever. And thanks too for your questions - good luck to everyone currently trying for a baby.
    Web Ed Nicola
  • Dlp01
    So sorry the journey has been so traumatic so far. As I have mentioned to others please see as you will find fertility food wheels which go through all the nutrients you need and why, and which foods provide them. On top of that unless you have any contraindications I would both take a fertility multi vitamin and mineral and omega -3 supplement. Also please avoid alcohol and caffeine and processed foods with artificial additives as well as excess sugar and refined carbs
    Good luck
  • Thanks Yvonne - I think another doctors appointment is definitely needed! I do have some veg omega3s so will get those taken as well as the evening primrose oil.x
  • Thanks everyone
    Pleas do see for nutrition advice, info on fertility test sticks and 6-day early pregnancy tests as well as a free Ask the midwife or nutritionist helpline

  • Thanks Yvonne, that's really helpful. Those are the vitamins he has agreed to take at the moment. I found that the multivits only had them in low doses, so that is why we have switched to separate vits. That is also helpful to hear about foods, although he doesn't like to eat any of the things you mentioned!! Thanks again.
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