Soy products are extremely popular and can be found just about anywhere.  There are a number of reasons why this plant bases protein is a healthy food choice.  Eating soy has a multitude of  benefits: lowering the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, breast cancer, maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, and even minimize symptoms of menopause. So why would this be something that we need to be concerned about when planning to conceive a child?

Soy is considered to be an estrogenic plant, meaning the chemicals produced when digested interact with our hormone signals.  These chemicals are known as Phytoestrogens, or in the case of soy specifically, isoflavones.  Isoflavones are not as potent than the estrogen hormones our bodies produce, but they are strong enough to cause the receptors in our body to respond to their presence in our system. When we digest soy, these chemicals can mimic the presence of the natural estrogen in the body, but are also known to work an inhibitor for normal estrogen activity. What does this mean?

Studies have shown that women may encounter decreased levels of estrogen when consuming soybeans and soy-based products, and estrogen levels could be affected are extremely important for women trying to get pregnant. However, there hasn’t been a large amount of studies done to give us enough evidence of whether or not soy absolutely affects fertility.  Several results of the studies spanning over 20 years have conflicted conclusions and many cultures around the world consume soy quite often and still have high rates of fertility.

If you are having trouble conceiving, it’s not a bad idea to limit your soy intake.  If anything, it can rule out whether it is contributing to your fertility challenges.  Every woman is unique and challenges surrounding conceiving could be related to something entirely different.  It’s always best to discuss all possibilities with your physician. If you need help with or have questions surrounding nutritional counseling, you can ask me directly at Neway Fertility – 212-750-3330 or @drjanelleluk on Twitter.

Dr. Janelle Luk, Medical Director