Researchers in the United Kingdom are looking for 110 couples who are planning on in vitro fertilization (IVF) in the near future. A recent study involving mice demonstrated a "major impact" on the success rate of IVF when the mice were fed a Mediterranean diet before implantation. The research team would like to test the Mediterranean diet effect on the IVF success rate for humans.

Two aspects of the diet that seem especially promising for IVF success are its high omega-3 fish oil content and an abundance of vitamin D. To replicate the test on mice, the British couples who volunteer for the study will dine Mediterranean style for six weeks before IVF treatment begins.

Professor Nick Macklon is spearheading the study. He's the medical director of Complete Fertility Centre Southampton as well as a Princess Anne Hospital obstetrics and gynecology consultant. Macklon says that recent studies suggest improved outcomes when couples consume the Mediterranean diet before IVF "but the idea is yet to be tested in a proper randomized trial." He wants to change that.

During the study on mice, fertilized eggs were carefully monitored round the clock by way of a specialized incubator called the Embryoscope. The Embryoscope features video monitoring technology with time-lapse capabilities that allows the researchers to record and analyze the transition from fertilized egg to embryo.

The Embryoscope provides a state-of-the-art opportunity to assess the transition process in real time and allows researchers to stay continuously assessed the quality of the embryo. The healthier the embryo, the greater the chance the embryo will develop into a successful pregnancy after implantation.

Other elements of the IVF process will be evaluated as well, to determine if the Mediterranean diet delivers any beneficial impact on them:

  • Quality of egg cells and sperm
  • Environment of the uterus at the time of implantation

Previous studies have attempted to document a link between diet and improved IVF success but they've produced inconclusive results. One reason is that it's difficult to entice enough people to stay on the prescribed diet long enough to complete the study.

This study, known as PREPARE (preconception dietary supplements in assisted reproduction), is of relatively short duration and the required foods are delicious and easy to find and prepare.

If the study does reveal a link between Mediterranean diet and IVF success, Macklon suggests it could "have major implications for health policy and strengthen arguments for the provision of preconceptional nutritional advice to the general population."

Interested couples can contact Macklon by phone at 023-8120-6980.

Source: "IVF trial tests Mediterranean diet." BMI Healthcare / Our Hospitals / News." BMI Healthcare Limited. Mar 27, 2014. Web. Apr 10, 2014