If you’re having trouble getting pregnant, you’re probably willing to try just about anything to increase your chance of success. A rumour that I see popping up often on fertility forums says that drinking pineapple juice can increase can boost chances of embryo implantation. Yes, you heard that right – the humble pineapple is a fertility booster apparently! Is this an urban myth or credible science? Well, in this blog I’m going to get to the core of the pineapple and fertility story and tell you which one it is!
So, can the humble pineapple help you become pregnant on IVF?
If you delve into any of the popular fertility blogs, talk to other women going through IVF or even do a search of good old Dr Google, you’ll probably come across pineapples being promoted as an A-grade diet pregnancy hack. The advice is framed along these lines: if you eat a whole pineapple, including the core, before and after the day of implantation then the chance of a successful implantation goes up. So the big, big question is: does it work?!
To explore this a bit further, I went in search of credible scientific research to back up the claims. And my long and careful search on the mystical properties of the pineapple fruit proved to be…fruitless. Unfortunately, there is zero scientific evidence to show that pineapples help with embryo implantation during IVF.
So is it a case of ‘case closed’? Not completely. Just because there isn’t any research to show it works, it is also true that there are no clinical trials to show that it doesn’t work. Maybe a bit of funding is needed by ‘Big Pineapple’ to push researchers along to study it a bit closer. But when I look at the theory for why pineapples could help, I think it is a long-shot that eating pineapples will make much of a difference.
What is bromelain?
So why has the Internet gone gaga for pineapples? Like any potential myth, there is an element of truth to it. It is possible, MAYBE, that pineapples could help with embryo implantation. And if they do, it comes down to a special nutrient found in pineapples called bromelain.
Never heard about bromelain before? That’s probably not surprising. Bromelain is an enzyme found naturally in pineapples. You’ll find the most concentrated source of bromelain in the core of the pineapple which is why advice is to be eating the core, rather than just drinking the juice or eating the fleshy outer fruit.
The interest in bromelain comes from its potential to reduce inflammation in the body, including in the uterus. It is also a mild blood thinner which some believe can aid in implantation. On a bit of a side note, many doctors prescribe baby aspirin to women to help with implantation because it is also a blood thinner, but here the dose used is very controlled. But from that connection, you can see why pineapples have attracted interest.
Conception and implantation require an intricate shift in our immune system to a less inflammatory state. So it is possible that bromelain helps with this shift which allows implantation to occur, but again this is just pretty much speculation at this stage.
What else can bromelain do?
Putting embryo implantation to the side, what else could bromelain be good for?
Bromelain has a long history of use in folk medicine use so it was known about well before the Internet came along. I was surprised to learn that bromelain is used as a culinary ingredient as it makes for a greater meat tenderiser. And following on from that use, bromelain is actually an approved treatment to help remove dead skin of severe burn wounds. Doesn’t sound pleasant does it, but bromelain will do the job nicely!
There is some interest in bromelain for medical use in inflammatory diseases such as osteoarthritis or in cardiovascular disease, but the evidence for a benefit is very mixed.
So you can see why joining some of these dots together you could come up with the idea that it can help with embryo implantation. But those dots are small and a long way apart in my eyes.
But if you enjoy eating pineapples, then keep on eating them as they can be a part of a healthy diet for a woman undergoing IVF. But if you are eating them for any potential bromelain benefit, then you have to include the core – drinking the juice won’t cut it. Oh, and the pineapple needs to be fresh and uncooked – canned pineapple has no bromelain in it as it is destroyed from the heat in the canning process.
A word of warning
Don’t’ get too carried away with your pineapple eating because it is thought that large doses of bromelain can cause uterine contractions and interfere with implantation of an embryo. So definitely stay away from bromelain supplements. If you are taking baby aspirin which is a blood thinner, be aware that extra bromelain can add to the blood thinning effect so definitely speak to your treating doctor about this.
I’ve given you a lot of information today. So, let’s summarise:
- When trying to get pregnant, it’s best not to focus on one aspect such as a miracle pregnancy superfood such as pineapples to the exclusion of others
- No clinical studies have shown that pineapples have any benefit on the uterine lining
- An adequate uterine lining is important for embryo implantation, but many other factors also contribute to pregnancy
- The bromelain in pineapple can have both potentially helpful and harmful effects on pregnancy so don’t go overboard on it
- And don’t take bromelain supplements unless your doctor recommends it.
Now, I’m sure that you’ll have loads of questions, so feel free to post them in the comments below.
And, to make all this easier for you, I’d love you to download my free meal plan. Just go to www.melaniemcgrice.com/fertility
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