By Dietitian – Nutritionist Evelina Konstantinou
Olive oil and fertility
Fertility is the ability of an organism to reproduce. Unfortunately, in recent years o
annual number of births has decreased significantly and continues to have a declining trend.
Infertility – definition, epidemiolog:
According to the World Health Organization, infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after
twelve months of regular sexual intercourse without contraception .
Infertility is more common than we think; it is estimated that 15% of couples
is facing a problem worldwide. In 35% of its cases it is due to women
factor, in 30% in men, in 20% in both, while in 15% for an unspecified cause .
Nutrition (Mediterranean) and fertility:
Nutrition has been shown to have a significant effect on fertility [2, 3].
Excessive consumption of processed foods, rich in simple sugars, saturated and
trans fat and low in fiber, has been shown to adversely affect fertility.
In what way:
Causing oxidative stress *, which plays a key role in the appearance, among others, of
obesity, type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance, disorders related to
deterioration of fertility [2, 3, 4, 5].
On the other hand, the Mediterranean diet (MD) characterized by daily consumption of
olive oil, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts, has a positive
impact on fertility. Its benefits are mainly due to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and
hypolipidemic action .
* oxidative stress: is the imbalance between the formation of free radicals and their removal from
the antioxidant mechanisms.
Olive oil and (under) fertility:
Undoubtedly, one of the most characteristic elements of MD is olive oil. It is the main thing
dietary fat and the main source of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) in MD.
• fatty acids 55-83% oleic acid (type MUFA), 4-20% polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and
Saturated fatty acids 8% -14%.
• phenolic compounds (eg oleuropein, oleocanthal, hydroxytyrosol),
• tocopherols (vitamin E) etc. [6, 7].
Fats are vital for fertility.
In the Nurses ’Health Study II study it was observed
that a 2% increase in trans fat consumption to the detriment of MUFAs doubles the risk
ovulatory infertility . In a study involving 147 women who did IVF
fertilization, it was found that higher MUFA intake was associated with higher
3.45 times) live births .
MUFAs enhance fertility as they act anti-inflammatory, improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin, is less prone to
in oxidation and increase the fluidity of the membrane in sperm [2, 9]. Beyond that, the
Oleic acid appears to contribute to the normal development of eggs and embryos in women
who underwent intracellular sperm injection .
Olive oil contains a range of antioxidants:
MUFA, phenols, vitamin E and carotenoids
[6, 7]. Extra virgin olive oil is a food “bomb“; it contains the largest amount
antioxidants compared to other types of olive oil. Antioxidants are high
important for fertility, as they kill free radicals. To emphasize again that the oxidant
stress is a major cause of infertility [2, 3, 4, 5].
Hydroxytyrosol and oleacine are two very important antioxidants in olive oil. More
in particular, the former has been shown to have a positive effect on sperm viability and reduce the
oxidation of sperm DNA during incubation in vitro . THE
Vitamin E is another very powerful antioxidant, found in cell membranes.
It binds free radicals, inhibiting lipid peroxidation . It has been proven,
as for oleic acid, that it can improve sperm motility [7, 11, 12],
important parameter for capture. In addition, it can significantly increase the appearance
A study of more than 600 men found that those who consumed at least nine tablespoons of
olive oil weekly had 40% lower risk of erectile dysfunction and
significantly higher testosterone levels compared to those who consumed less
olive oil . Also, in another study an improvement in fetal development was observed in
women who followed a diet rich in olive oil and fish and poor in meat
period before arrest .
In conclusion, olive oil, and especially extra virgin olive oil, seems to have a positive
impact on both female and male fertility, thanks to its nutritional composition.
It is a key food for those trying to conceive with or without the help of technology. Let’s
explore this nutritional diamond, which is in abundance in our country!
1. Zegers-Hochschild F, Adamson G, Dyer S, et al .: The International Glossary on Infertility and Fertility Care,
2017, Hum Reprod. 2017; 32 (9): 1786–1801
2. Skoracka K., Ratajczak A.E., Rychter A.M. et al .: Female Fertility and the Nutritional Approach – The Most
Essential Aspects. Adv Nutr 2021; 12: 2372–2386
3. Emokpae M.A., Brown S.I .: Effects of lifestyle factors on fertility practical recommendations for modification.
Reproduction and Fertility. 2021; 1 R13 – R26
4. Skoracka K., Eder P., Łykowska-Szuber L. et al .: Diet and Nutritional Factors in Male (In) fertility—
Underestimated Factors. J. Clin. Med. 2020, 9, 1400.
5. Chavarro J.E., Rich-Edwards J.W., Rosner B.A. et al .: Dietary fatty acid intakes and the risk of ovulatory
infertility. Am J Clin Nutr 2007; 85: 231–7
6. Segura-Carretero A., Curiel J.A .: Current Disease-Targets for Oleocanthal as Promising Natural Therapeutic
Agent. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19, 2899
7. Saleem Ali Banihani: Semen quality as affected by olive oil. International Journal of Food Properties. 2017; 20
8. A high intake of certain dietary fats associated with lower live birth rates in IVF:
https://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-07-high-intake-dietary-fats-birth.html / 11/01/2022
9. Preedy V., Watson R .: Olives and Olive Oil in Health and Disease Prevention. 2020, p. 439
10. Jahangirifar M., Taebi M., Nasr-Esfahani M.H. et al .: Dietary Fatty Acid Intakes and the Outcomes of Assisted
Reproductive Technique in Infertile Women. J Reprod Infertil. 2021; 22 (3): 173-183
11. Malik A., Muhammad I., Ramli R. et al .: Male Infertility: The Effect of Natural Antioxidants and
Phytocompounds on Seminal Oxidative Stress. Diseases 2017, 5, 9
12. De Rose A.F., Baldi M., Gallo F. et al .: The management of male infertility -from nutraceuticals to diagnostics.
I J M D A T. 2018; 1 (1), 110
men-performance-a8513936.html (visited 11/01/2022)
14. Paris F., Angel R., Nicole A.H. et al: Periconceptional maternal ‘high fish and olive oil, low meat’ dietary
pattern is associated with increased embryonic growth The Rotterdam Periconceptional Cohort (Predict) Study.
Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol 2017; 50: 709–716
He studied Dietetics at the Medical University of Warsaw. He continued with postgraduate studies
in the same department, from where he graduated with the highest grade. During her studies
carried out its clinical practice in various hospitals and institutions both in Warsaw and
She has been working as a dietitian since 2017. For 4 years she has been providing online nutrition sessions at
Poland, Cyprus and Greece, as well as living in clinics in Warsaw. He worked for 1.5 years
at the Warsaw Pediatric Hospital.
Takes on people who want healthy weight loss / gain or just getting better
their eating habits. In addition, it provides nutritional support in prevention and
treatment of various nutrition-related diseases. She is very interested in the gastrointestinal tract
She does not stop being informed, attending seminars and sessions on her subject.
In its practice it applies a holistic and individualized approach to patients and
adapts dietary interventions to patients’ preferences and health.
Maintains account on Instagram (diaitologos_evelina.kn) and Facebook (Evelina Konstantinou –
Clinical Dietitian), where he shares useful diet tips and recipes.