Seed cycling is a topic that often crops up when discussing dietary changes to improve your fertility. You may hear about it in relation to hormone balance, irregular periods, irregular ovulation or conditions like PCOS. But what is seed cycling for fertility it and is there any evidence behind it? Read on to find out!
What is seed cycling?
Seed cycling is the suggested practice of eating different seeds during different phases of the menstrual cycle. It is claimed that it is a way of balancing hormones naturally which could:
- Regulate periods and reduce pain
- Relieve PMS symptoms
- Improve fertility
- Treat polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Seed cycling advocates recommend to eat 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds and 1 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds each day during the follicular phase. This should start from the first day of your period until ovulation. The idea is that doing this supports the right levels of oestrogen needed to thicken the uterine lining.
then during the luteal phase, eat 1 tablespoon of ground sesame seeds and 1 tablespoon of ground sunflower seeds. The reason behind this is it is though these seeds support the levels of progesterone needed to maintain the uterine lining for implantation.
So the questions is – does this practice of seed cycling for fertility have any evidence behind it and crucially, does it work?
Does seed cycling actually work for fertility?
You will probably hear anecdotal accounts of people who have seen or felt differences when seed cycling, but is there any scientific evidence?
The short answer is no. There is currently no evidence to suggest eating certain seeds during the follicular and luteal phases of your cycle will have any benefit on your menstrual cycle, hormone balance or fertility.
While the practice of seed cycling for fertility may not have much evidence behind it. Seeds themselves are a great source of many health and fertility-supporting nutrients. Seeds are definitely something to include in your diet to boost fertility.
Benefits of flax seeds for fertility
Flax seeds are a particularly rich source of lignans, a class of phytoestrogens which are similar in structure and function to oestrogen. There isn’t any evidence to suggest they are beneficial for endometrial thickness (1). Eating lignans can however support a shorter time to pregnancy (2).
Benefits of pumpkin seeds for fertility
Pumpkin seeds also contain lignans and are particularly high in zinc. They are a great way to include more zinc in the diet which helps to reduce time to pregnancy (3). Zinc has also been associated with reduced period pains (4).
Benefits of sesame seeds for fertility
Benefits of sunflower seeds for fertility
Sunflower seeds are a rich source of vitamin E. This is a fat-soluble antioxidant that can enhance implantation and improve the pregnancy rates in patients with a thin endometrium (6) and unexplained infertility (7).
Rather than focusing on seed cycling for fertility focus on including seeds in whatever way works for you in your diet.
Benefits of seeds for fertility – aside from seed cycling
As well as the above, seeds are good sources of plant-based omega 3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and support both egg quality and implantation. Consuming adequate amounts of them can improve egg quality in women over 35 years old.
Seeds are also high in fibre which should be an important part of your diet for optimising fertility. Diets close to the daily recommended fibre intake of 30g may increase your chances of pregnancy (8).
What does this all mean for you?
As we have seen, there is no scientific evidence to support the cycling aspect of seed cycling for fertility. However, seeds are nutritionally dense and contain a whole host of fertility supporting nutrients. Seeds get a big thumbs up from us as a fertility supporting food.
Having said that, there is also no harm in seed cycling for fertility and if you want to give it a try, go for it. But it’s worth noting, seeds bought from your local supermarket or local market/grocers will be just as beneficial as those found in expensive seed cycling kits you may find online.
If you have more questions about diet and fertility and want to separate more myths from truths, check out our online fertility course Fertility Food Formula. It is a self paced, 4 module course designed to empower you with the knowledge and information you need to make positive changes to your diet and lifestyle to support optimal fertility outcomes. All the information contained within the course is backed by scientific literature without a myth in sight!