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If you’re not having success with IVF, it might be because of the pesticides you’re cons


Ever heard of the Dirty Dozen? This refers to an annual report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which ranks fruits and vegetables based on levels of pesticides. All the fruits and vegetables included on this list are considered “dirty” because of high levels of pesticide residue; apart from causing hormone disruption, neurological diseases, and skin, eye and lung conditions in humans, these also reduce women’s chances of getting pregnant.

More specifically, a study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal showed that women trying to conceive through IVF were less likely to be successful if they ate foods which contained high levels of pesticides (foods which are in the Dirty Dozen!)

For reference, the Dirty Dozen includes…

  1. Strawberries

  2. Apples

  3. Nectarines

  4. Peaches

  5. Celery

  6. Grapes

  7. Cherries

  8. Spinach

  9. Tomatoes

  10. Bell Peppers

  11. Cherry Tomatoes

  12. Cucumbers

Strawberries are by far the worst offender, with the US Department of Agriculture finding that nearly 30% of strawberries contained the residue of over 10 pesticides. That’s not all – the dirtiest strawberries were linked to a whopping 21 pesticides.


Back to the study, in which professors from the Harvard School of Public Health observed 325 women who were using IVF to get pregnant: results showed that women who ate more than two servings of high-pesticide fruits or vegetables a day were 18% less likely to get pregnant than women who ate one serving of the same per day. Women who ate more high-pesticide fruits and vegetables were also 26% less likely to have a live birth.

Senior investigator Dr. Jorge Chavarro, who is an associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, says that he used to be skeptical that pesticide residues in foods would have any impact on health. He didn’t expect to find anything relevant upon starting work on the study, says Dr Chavarro, and was surprised to see that eating high-pesticide foods does significantly impact women’s fertility.


Bearing this in mind, what are some precautions that women who are trying to conceive (be it via IVF, or through natural means) consider? Experts recommend consuming more organic fruits and vegetables which are likely to have less pesticide residue, and putting more effort into washing your fruits and vegetables before consumption. In addition, do also look into switching up your diet and eating more fruits and vegetables from the Clean Fifteen (listed below!); these are the fruits and vegetables which, according to the EWG, contain the least amount of pesticides.

  1. Avocados

  2. Sweet Corn

  3. Pineapples

  4. Cabbage

  5. Frozen Sweet Peas

  6. Onions

  7. Asparagus

  8. Mangoes

  9. Papayas

  10. Kiwi

  11. Eggplant

  12. Honeydew Melon

  13. Grapefruit

  14. Cantaloupe

  15. Cauliflower

Fertility consultation with BeNatural’s fertility coach, Marie Otsuka

If you and your partner would like to learn more about conceiving, come down for a 45-minute consultation with Marie Otsuka, BeNatural’s fertility coach. In this session, Marie will seek to understand the couple’s situation, and offer insights she’s gained through her 10 years of experience in working with infertile Singaporeans. Slots are limited and on a first come first serve basis; contact us here to schedule an appointment!

+65 3165 2202

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