Dr. Nashat Latib

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How Sugar Sabotages Your Fertility

By Dr. Nashat Latib • March 8, 2024

When Trying to Conceive

Cutting out refined sugar is one of the first things you hear when preparing your body for conception. If you follow us on social media or have watched our free fertility masterclass, you’ll certainly have heard us say this over and over again!

But beyond simply “being unhealthy”, few people realize just how significantly sugar disrupts female and male fertility on a physiological level. 

When clients come to us with an unexplained infertility diagnosis, we instantly tell them to reduce or eliminate sugar consumption immediately. 

Yes, sugar is THAT bad of a fertility disruptor!

In fact, a 2018 study(1) found that men and women who drank even as little as one soda a day had between a 25-33% lower probability of conceiving each month!

Let’s break down the bitter truth.

Why Sugar Stalls Conception

From bodywide inflammation and yeast infections to ovulation problems and poor sperm quality, sugar wreaks havoc on the intricate hormone regulation and coordination crucial for fertility:

  • Inflammation – Sugary foods trigger inflammatory immune responses flooding the body with fertility foes like oxidative stress compounds and defensive white blood cells. This not only worsens conditions like endometriosis, PCOS, and fibroids, but creates a hostile environment sabotaging natural conception(2).  
  • Egg quality – Normally, when you consume carbs, sugars, and protein, your pancreas releases insulin to help regulate glucose and carry it into cells. But when your cells become desensitized to insulin (which can happen when you consistently ingest too much sugar) it can decrease the amount of maturing eggs and interfere with ovulation. A 2022 study found this insulin resistance issue in 1 out of 5 infertile women(3).
  • Insulin spikes – Rapid rises in insulin increase testosterone levels which masquerade as estrogen in the body. This throws off the progesterone balance needed to ovulate a mature, healthy egg and support early embryo development after fertilization.
  • Yeast infections – Candida and other yeast feast on glucose. Those with diets higher in sugar tend to be more prone to yeast infections, which have been shown to hinder fertility through direct damage to sperm(4) in males. While yeast infections do not directly cause infertility in the female partner, they can cause changes in your cervical mucus, which can temporarily block sperm from reaching an egg for fertilization until treated.
  • Gut imbalance – Sugar disrupts beneficial intestinal flora populations which help regulate proper estrogen metabolism. Dysbiosis impairs fertility indirectly through estrogen dominance as well as leakage of toxins into circulation that trigger inflammation.

In essence, sugar suppresses fertility not simply through obesity and diabetes risk but by directly dysregulating delicate hormone feedback and the intricate reproductive ecosystem.

Sourcing Sugar Smartly

While small amounts from whole food sources pose little threat, added sugar and refined sweeteners wreak havoc—and many times, you have no idea!

If you have been given an unexplained infertility diagnosis—or you plan to try for a baby soon—now is the time to limit desserts, sodas, juices, packaged snacks, alcohol, honey, agave, and even starchy refined grains. 

A simple first step is to treat swaps for healthier options. For example, choose:

  • Small squares of 70% dark chocolate over milk chocolate or other kinds of candy
  • Fresh fruit as dessert over ice cream
  • Green smoothies instead of granola bars

When you do indulge in sweets, pair them with protein and fiber. This helps minimize surging blood sugar and insulin. The fiber slows sugar absorption from the gut(5), while the protein requires less insulin to process than sugary carbs(6). Together they help smooth out the blood sugar spike.

Here are some examples of ways to pair sugar with protein and fiber to enjoy smartly:

  • Dark chocolate piece with almonds or walnuts
  • Apple slice dipped in peanut or almond butter
  • Berries on top of plain Greek yogurt
  • A small scoop of ice cream with chopped nuts, topped with chia seeds
  • Trail mix with dried fruit, nuts, seeds, and toasted coconut flakes
  • Fruit smoothie made with collagen protein powder and chia/flax meal
  • Chocolate chip oatmeal cookie made with oats, nut butter, and dried fruit


Excessive refined sugar and empty carbs sabotage the intricate hormonal dance enabling conception through:

  • Spiking inflammation, reducing fertility odds
  • Promoting insulin resistance and poor egg quality
  • Feeding yeast overgrowth tied to reproductive damage
  • Disrupting healthy gut flora critical for harmonious hormones

While the occasional small treat poses little threat, habitual added sugar disables fertility on multiple fronts. Honor genuine cravings through less disruptive whole food sources.

While, as doctors, we would love for everyone to eliminate sugar entirely (both the male partner and female partner), we understand that’s not always feasible. Even taking small steps to reduce sugar—and consume it more strategically—can improve your chances of pregnancy.

If you would like our support to walk through the process step by step, we are here for you! Watch our free, on-demand masterclass here and take the action step to apply to work with us. We’ve helped countless couples like you succeed in optimizing their fertility, even when they are starting a family a little later in life.


  1. Hatch, Elizabeth E.a; Wesselink, Amelia K.a; Hahn, Kristen A.a; Michiel, James J.a; Mikkelsen, Ellen M.b; Sorensen, Henrik Toftb; Rothman, Kenneth J.a,c; Wise, Lauren A.a. Intake of Sugar-sweetened Beverages and Fecundability in a North American Preconception Cohort. Epidemiology 29(3):p 369-378, May 2018. | DOI: 10.1097/EDE.0000000000000812 
  2. Sharma, R., Biedenharn, K. R., Fedor, J. M., & Agarwal, A. (2013). Lifestyle factors and reproductive health: taking control of your fertility. Reproductive biology and endocrinology : RB&E, 11, 66. https://doi.org/10.1186/1477-7827-11-66
  3. Karnatak R, Agarwal A, Asnani M, Singh R. The Effect of Insulin Resistance on Ovulation Induction With Clomiphene Citrate in Non-polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Women. Cureus. 2022 Jul 29;14(7):e27433. doi: 10.7759/cureus.27433. PMID: 36051734; PMCID: PMC9420237.
  4. Castrillón-Duque EX, Puerta Suárez J, Cardona Maya WD. Yeast and Fertility: Effects of In Vitro Activity of Candida spp. on Sperm Quality. J Reprod Infertil. 2018 Jan-Mar;19(1):49-55. PMID: 29850447; PMCID: PMC5960052.
  5. Riccardi G, Rivellese AA. Effects of dietary fiber and carbohydrate on glucose and lipoprotein metabolism in diabetic patients. Diabetes Care. 1991 Dec;14(12):1115-25. doi: 10.2337/diacare.14.12.1115. PMID: 1663443.
  6. Gannon MC, Nuttall FQ. Effect of a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet on blood glucose control in people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes. 2004 Sep;53(9):2375-82. doi: 10.2337/diabetes.53.9.2375. PMID: 15331548.