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Let's see what the experts say

Mike Pomranz
May 29, 2018

Everyone’s heard the rumor that oysters are an aphrodisiac, though the scientific research looking into those claims seems to be a mixed bag. But now, a new Harvard study potentially one-ups that old oyster claim, suggesting that eating seafood of any kind can make couples more fertile and improve their sex life—research that’s sure to make people... excited.

For couples who are having difficulty conceiving, any scientific findings that purport to boost fertility is news worth investigating. So this study, entitled “Seafood Intake, Sexual Activity, and Time to Pregnancy” and published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, is certainly worth a look. Researchers followed 500 couples from Michigan and Texas for one year, specifically looking at how seafood intake correlated to sexual activity and pregnancy. In the end, the study found that 92 percent of these couples who ate seafood more than twice a week were pregnant after one year, compared to 79 percent among couples consuming less seafood.

Importantly, the study also suggests that the couples who ate seafood more frequently also had more sexual activity. But this alone was unable to directly explain the increased rate of pregnancy. Instead, the authors suggest that other biological factors had to have been at play, possibly including semen quality, ovulation, or embryo quality.

“Our study suggests seafood can have many reproductive benefits, including shorter time to pregnancy and more frequent sexual activity,” Audrey Gaskins, Sc.D., of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said in a statement. “Our study found that couples who consume more than two servings of seafood per week while trying to get pregnant, had a significantly higher frequency of sexual intercourse and shorter time to pregnancy.”

While this all sounds too good to be true, some experts seemed optimistic. Dr. Joshua U. Klein, Chief Medical Officer and Reproductive Endocrinologist at Extend Fertility (who wasn’t involved with the research), believes that though all observational studies have their limitations, this one was “very high quality.” Klein said it would be beneficial to see this study reproduced as a randomized controlled trial, but added, “Until then, since there are generally numerous health benefits to eating seafood anyway, I think this study provides a reason to cautiously encourage seafood consumption (2+ servings/week) in couples who are trying to conceive. Even if the main way seafood helps fertility is by causing more frequent sexual activity, there’s nothing wrong with that!”

However, not all experts were ready to go all in on a high-seafood diet for people looking to boost their sex life. “The study collected a large number of variables to determine factors that may improve fundability in couples trying to get pregnant,” Julie Sroga Rios, MD, with the University of Cincinnati’s Center for Reproductive Health, told us via email. “There are some flaws and bias in this type of research. … Further studies designed to specifically look at the causation of seafood intake or Omega 3 fatty acids are needed to make recommendations to couples on dietary changes that may impact the ability to conceive.”

Regardless, Lauren Manaker, a registered dietician specializing in infertility and prenatal support, was intrigued by the study for another reason. “I like how this study emphasizes the importance of male nutrition for conception,” she told us. “Fish consumption is related to better semen quality in men. In one study, the results suggest that the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids are positively related to testicular volume.” That too could spice up your sex life… if you’re into that sort of thing.

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