• The study showed that on average, 92 per cent of the couples who ate more than two serves of seafood a week were pregnant after one year. (Getty Images)
Seafood may feature more regularly on the menu, following the release of new study showing that couples who eat the most seafood have sex a lot more often than everyone else.
By
Yasmin Noone

1 Jun 2018 - 3:11 PM  UPDATED 4 Jun 2018 - 4:23 PM

If you want to fall pregnant or just have more sex with your partner, you’re best off ordering the seafood dish at dinner tonight.

A new study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism this month, shows that couples who eat more seafood have sex more often and can fall pregnant faster than couples who eat less seafood.

The researchers, from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in the US, studied the seafood intake and sexual habits of 1000 people – 500 male and female couples – who were trying to get pregnant for a year (or until pregnancy was detected).

Female partners were aged 18-to-44 years and had menstrual cycles between 21 and 42 days. Male partners were aged over 18.

The study showed that couples with the highest seafood intake (eight or more seafood servings a cycle) had 22 per cent more sex than the couples who ate less seafood.

During the observation period, the couple’s daily seafood intake was recorded. The participants were asked how often they ate canned tuna fish, fresh fish, shrimp, crab and other shellfish. The couples also documented how often they had sex.

The study showed that couples with the highest seafood intake (eight or more seafood servings a cycle) had 22 per cent more sex than the couples who ate less seafood.

Couples who ate eight or more seafood servings between them had a 95 per cent higher chance of falling pregnant compared to couples consuming less seafood.

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On average, 92 per cent of the couples who ate more than two serves of seafood a week were pregnant after one year. This was compared to 79 per cent of couples who ate less seafood during the same time frame.

Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) and spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia, Melanie McGrice, tells SBS the research is sound and the findings of the US study are universal.

“The results of the study don’t surprise me, as I have a good understanding of the rest of the research that is out there,” says McGrice, who specialises in fertility dietetics. “The study uses a small sample size but the findings are based on solid science.”

Aren't pregnant women supposed to avoid fish full of mercury?

McGrice says the study raises one key issue she deals with, time and time again, in her clinical practice. “I see so many women who are apprehensive about eating cooked fish or seafood when they are trying to conceive because they are concerned about listeria and mercury poisoning,” says McGrice.

“Not only is it safe to eat cooked seafood and most fish before conception but it’s safe to eat it during pregnancy...Seafood is actually beneficial to eat in the lead up to conception."

"We still need to be careful about the risks of listeriosis and mercury poisoning but when we compare it to other [health issues] going on during pregnancy, they are still quite rare.”

She says pregnant women should focus less on the dangers of cooked seafood and more on micronutrient intake, weight control and exercise. 

“We have over 300,000 births in Australia each year. Out of that group who give birth, one of every two women gain too much weight during pregnancy – that’s about 150,000 women where weight gain can impact the epigenetics of their child. More than 50,000 women will have gestational diabetes.

“While, around seven of the women giving birth in Australia every year will have listeriosis. We still need to be careful about the risks of listeriosis and mercury poisoning but when we compare it to other [health issues] going on during pregnancy, they are still quite rare.”

McGrice says women who should be concerned about the quantity and quality of the cooked fish they eat during conception and pregnancy are those who are catching and eating their own fish on a daily basis, and women who eat a lot of flake from the fish and chip shop. “Flake is shark – shark is a big fish that accumulates a lot of mercury.”

So why does seafood help you have more sex and fall pregnant?

The US study does not specify why there is a relationship between seafood intake, sexual frequency and time to pregnancy. However, McGrice believes it could be due to a combination of reasons.

Zinc

First, we know that seafood is a high source of zinc, which increases testosterone and male libido and helps to improve sperm health,” she says. “That’s why we think of oysters as being an aphrodisiac, because they are very high in zinc.”

A healthy diet

She adds that there may also be an association between people who eat more fish and those who have a healthier diet in general, having less take-away food. “Fish is quick and easy to cook so if you are short of time and are a fish-eater, you might choose to grill a fish quickly rather than buy takeaway food.”

Omega-3

Fish is also high in Omega-3, which “is very beneficial for fertility”.

“The main message is that women shouldn’t feel scared about eating seafood when they are trying to conceive or are pregnant. It’s a really healthy food group to consume.

“Just be wise about your intake. Make sure seafood is well-cooked, take note of where you are purchasing it from and how it is being stored. Ensure you are eating fish as opposed to flake. And if you have any concerns, speak to an APD.”

Fishy recipes
Prawn and fish coconut curry with okra

A visit to the fish markets in Chennai and then a cook-up on the beach inspired this dish. 

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You can use this fragrant scallion oil on any protein - fish, chicken, or a perfectly grilled steak!