Spicy foods and fertility

Spices certainly make food taste better and more enjoyable to eat, but scientifically we know very little about the impact hot and spicy foods have on reproductive health.  We do know that fertility rates around the globe seem to be similar from one country or continent to another, where diets might vary in their relative spiciness.  Given we have little information to go on, I would tell my patients not to worry about the spice level in food as far as their fertility is concerned.  However, I do have a few reminders about diet in general and some recommendations about food choices when you’re trying to get pregnant.

Nutrition is important for your fertility and overall health.  It makes a real difference in your body and its readiness to sustain a pregnancy.  It’s always best to eat a varied diet high in protein, fruits, and vegetables and low in fat, sugar, and starches, such as white rice and flour.  Chicken, beans, and tofu are examples of protein rich, low fat foods.  If you’re trying to get pregnant you should not eat raw or undercooked meats, hot dogs, deli meat, or soft cheeses such as feta, brie, blue cheeses, and queso fresco. These foods can cause a serious infection called listeriosis.

As important as what you eat is your activity level day-to-day.  It is important that you are regularly active.  I would recommend all my patients do something for 30 minutes three times a week to get their body moving and their heart rate up.  Some people like to take a brisk walk with their partner, others like to go for a run to de-stress from the day.  If you are currently not exercising at all, then start small (a ten minute walk) and move up from there.  You don’t have to work out in a gym to get the health effects of regular activity.  Having an active lifestyle and maintaining a healthy diet are the best things you can do for your over-all health and any upcoming pregnancy.  Activity can also help you maintain a healthy body mass index, defined as between 20 and 25 kg/m2.  Click here to figure out your BMI.



For more information about services at the U-M Center for Reproductive Medicine, or to make an appointment, visit the Center for Reproductive Medicine website.

Senait Fisseha, MD, JD, is the medical director for the University of Michigan Health System’s Center for Reproductive Medicine.  Her areas of specialty cover all aspects of infertility including: polycystic ovary syndrome, recurrent pregnancy loss, other endocrine disorders resulting in infertility; as well as assisted reproductive technologies such as IVF/ICSI, and gamete and embryo cryopreservation.


The University of Michigan Center for Reproductive Medicine brings the expertise of infertility specialists and research scientists together to help each of our clients have access to the latest fertility therapies and technologies available through one convenient center.  We offer a full spectrum of assisted reproductive technology options, including IVF, fertility preservation, Intrauterine insemination, donor insemination, and pre-implantation genetics diagnosis.