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Can Soy Isoflavones Help Me Get Pregnant?
If you’re trying to conceive, you may have heard that soy isoflavones can help boost fertility. Soy contains compounds called phytoestrogens that mimic estrogen in the body. But is upping your soy intake or taking soy supplements proven to increase conception chances? Let’s take a closer look at what the research says.
What are Soy Isoflavones?
Soy isoflavones are a class of phytoestrogens found naturally in soybeans and soy products like edamame, tofu, and tempeh. The main isoflavones in soy are genistein and daidzein.
These plant compounds can bind to estrogen receptors and exert mild estrogenic and anti-estrogenic effects in humans. Soy is considered a weak estrogen or SERM (selective estrogen receptor modulator).
Some fermented soy products like miso and tamari also contain phytoestrogens. However, soy protein isolates and textured vegetable protein found in processed foods may not.
Proposed Benefits for Fertility
Here are some of the ways soy isoflavones may potentially support fertility:
What Does the Research Show?
Studies reveal mixed findings about soy and fertility benefits:
Soy isoflavone supplements may support fertility for some women, but they are not proven fertility boosters overall. More large scale studies are still needed.
Are Soy Foods Just As Good as Supplements?
Getting soy isoflavones from whole soy foods may offer similar benefits to supplements without the risks of concentrated doses. Whole soy also provides additional nutrients for fertility like protein, antioxidants, B vitamins, iron, zinc and magnesium.
Enjoy a few servings of soy foods per week as part of an overall fertility diet, such as:
Focus on organic, non-GMO soy sources to limit pesticide exposures that could interfere with conception.
Should You Take Soy Isoflavone Supplements?
Soy isoflavone supplements haven’t been proven definitively to increase conception odds for most women. Effects seem limited to specific fertility issues like PCOS and endometriosis.
While supplements may help regulate ovulation and hormones, they also introduce higher concentrations of phytoestrogens than what’s found in food. This may skew estrogen levels too far or negatively interact with fertility medications.
Talk to your doctor before taking any soy isoflavone supplements, especially if you have hormonally driven infertility issues or are undergoing treatments like IVF. Targeted supplementation combined with medical protocols may be beneficial in some cases, but don’t take them in place of other therapies.
For most trying to conceive naturally, focus first on a healthy diet, lifestyle habits, and ovulation tracking. Then consider adding a few servings of whole soy foods for their beneficial vitamins, minerals, protein, and antioxidants. Soy in moderation may support fertility, but soy supplements are no guarantee for improving conception odds.