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Top Foods To Avoid While Taking Letrozole For Fertility

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Letrozole is a medication that helps stabilize estrogen levels and may enhance fertility in people who have struggled with getting pregnant. 
  • There are no specific foods that negatively react with letrozole. However, avoiding foods high in phytoestrogens may help stabilize your estrogen levels, and limiting saturated fats may reduce the risk of high cholesterol, a common side effect of letrozole.
  • A dietitian can help you discover how your diet affects your overall health, including your fertility. They can give personalized guidance on which foods may help increase fertility and which foods to avoid.

Many people have experienced better fertility due to taking letrozole. The medication reduces estrogen levels in the body and is beneficial for people with hormonal imbalances from conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). 

While research hasn’t shown any negative interactions between letrozole and specific foods, avoiding certain foods that affect hormone levels, blood sugar, and cholesterol may benefit your overall health and improve fertility. 

Read on to learn more about letrozole, explore which foods you may want to avoid while taking it, and learn other ways to enhance your fertility further. 

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What Is Letrozole?

The medication letrozole (Femara) was designed to reduce the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women by reducing their estrogen levels. It’s also used as a therapy for females with breast cancer to slow tumor growth. 

However, in 2004, a study suggested that letrozole was effective for inducing ovulation in females with PCOS. 

Since then, using letrozole as an infertility treatment has become common for people with PCOS and other medical conditions that affect fertility.

Letrozole is also starting to be used as a treatment for male infertility of unknown cause. 

How Does Letrozole Work For Fertility?

Letrozole comes from the drug class of aromatase inhibitors. Aromatase is a natural enzyme in the body that helps make estrogen. 

In females, when there is too much estrogen, the monthly ovulation cycle cannot occur. 

Letrozole helps inhibit the aromatase enzyme, which brings the estrogen level into balance and stimulates the other hormones that trigger ovulation. 

For females, letrozole may help with infertility caused by PCOS, endometriosis, or unknown causes, and help prepare the uterus for a frozen-thawed embryo transfer. 

The medication can also help with male infertility. 

In males, the medication helps decrease how much testosterone converts to estrogen, which helps increase testosterone levels and sperm production. Letrozole also appears to increase sperm motility. 

Foods To Avoid While Taking Letrozole

While there are no specific foods you need to avoid while taking letrozole, some types of food may work against the beneficial effects of letrozole. 

Starches

Foods high in refined sugars or simple carbohydrates increase blood sugar levels quickly and may not be beneficial if you’re trying to improve fertility by taking letrozole. 

If you’re struggling with infertility due to PCOS, your blood sugar levels may already be too high, as high blood sugar and type 2 diabetes are often associated with PCOS.

On the other hand, if you have infertility due to endometriosis, sugar may increase inflammation, which is already pronounced with endometriosis. 

Overall, when trying to conceive, it’s best to eat a diet low in refined sugars and simple carbohydrates to improve your overall health. 

Foods high in sugar and simple carbs include:

  • Candy.
  • Sodas.
  • Sweetened teas and coffee drinks.
  • White bread.
  • White rice. 
  • Pasta.
  • Potatoes.
  • Crackers.
  • Refined flour foods (donuts, muffins, cupcakes, and others).

Saturated Fats

A side effect of letrozole is high cholesterol. To help decrease your chance of increasing your cholesterol, avoiding or limiting foods that may increase your cholesterol is a good idea.

Foods high in saturated fats include:

  • Whole-fat cheese.
  • Whole milk.
  • Fatty meat.
  • Palm oil.
  • Red meat
  • Butter.
  • Ice cream.

Caffeinated Beverages

Letrozole causes insomnia for some people. 

If you’re having trouble sleeping while taking letrozole, you may want to avoid caffeinated beverages such as black tea and coffee drinks or limit them to one cup in the morning. 

Potential Side Effects Of Letrozole

Most people tolerate letrozole well. The most common side effects include:

  • Dizziness or weakness.
  • Nausea.
  • Bone, muscle, or joint pain.
  • Weight gain or swelling.
  • Cramps.
  • Hot flashes or increased sweating
  • Increased cholesterol.
  • Exhaustion.
  • Headaches.

Other Ways To Support Fertility Treatment 

You can make many lifestyle and nutritional choices to improve your overall health and increase your possibility of getting pregnant. 

Eat A Balanced Diet

Several studies have demonstrated the Mediterranean diet's positive effects on females looking to improve their fertility. 

A review of scientific studies reports that females who adhered to the Mediterranean Diet or the pro-fertility diet (which is very similar to the Mediterranean Diet) had a lower risk of infertility from ovulation disorders and a higher chance of live birth compared to those who did not adhere to the diet. 

The Mediterranean Diet encourages low consumption of red meat and simple sugars and high consumption of:

  • Vegetables.
  • Fruits.
  • Olive oil.
  • Unrefined carbohydrates (whole grains).
  • Low-fat diary.
  • Poultry.
  • Oily fish.

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Maintain An Average Weight

Over the years, studies have shown several benefits to maintaining an average weight before pregnancy. 

A study from 2017 suggests that being overweight may cause hormonal imbalances that lead to abnormal ovulation times.

A review of research confirms that having obesity causes a decrease in fertility and adds that it may also increase the chance of miscarriage. 

Be Physically Active

Studies show that while exercise can benefit overall health and promote a healthy pregnancy, too much exercise can make a person decrease in fertility and even stop their menstrual cycle. 

So, while being active is beneficial before getting pregnant, it’s a good idea to keep your activity at an average level and avoid vigorous exercise. 

Try brisk walking 30 minutes a day, taking a yoga class, and doing some resistance exercises a couple of times a week. 

Avoid Smoking And Alcohol

It’s important to stop smoking and drinking alcohol before getting pregnant to minimize the risk to the baby. 

Smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol can cause issues during pregnancy, such as birth defects, infant death, and premature birth.

When you avoid these substances before conception, you optimize your chances of a healthy pregnancy.

Take Folic Acid

Folate is a B vitamin that is important for preventing brain and spine defects in the developing baby. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends females of childbearing age get 400 mcg of folic acid daily from supplements or fortified foods. Foods high in folic acid include:

  • Dark green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale).
  • Beef liver.
  • Black-eyed peas.
  • Fortified breakfast cereals.
  • Asparagus.
  • Brussels sprouts.
  • Lettuce.
  • Avocado.

When To Consult Your Provider About Letrozole Side Effects Or Concerns

It’s important to consult with your healthcare provider if you experience any concerning side effects or have any questions or concerns. Your doctor may be able to change your treatment.

Also, if you don’t get pregnant after several months of taking letrozole for fertility, you may want to discuss other fertility options with your medical provider. 

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Takeaway

Letrozole is a medication that may help balance hormone levels and enhance fertility. Females with PCOS and other conditions that cause hormonal imbalances have found this medication to be helpful. 

There are no specific foods you must avoid while taking letrozole, but some foods may be best to limit or avoid to enhance its benefits.

For example, you may want to limit foods high in phytoestrogens–a compound that mimics estrogen. 

It may also be helpful to avoid simple sugars to help manage blood sugar levels. A common side effect of  high cholesterol and avoiding foods high in saturated fats may help reduce that risk. 

To help further enhance fertility, focus on eating a balanced diet, maintaining an average weight, staying physically active, avoiding harmful substances such as smoking and alcohol, and taking necessary supplements. 

How A Dietitian Can Help

Prenatal dietitians can be pivotal in optimizing fertility by providing personalized nutritional guidance tailored to your needs and reproductive goals. 

After doing a dietary assessment, a dietitian can identify potential nutritional deficiencies, address weight management concerns, and promote overall health and wellness. 

Dietitians are also skilled in offering strategies for how nutrition can help manage conditions like PCOS and endometriosis, which may complement medical interventions like Letrozole. 

Find a dietitian who accepts insurance through Nourish. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I avoid while taking letrozole?

There are no specific foods you have to avoid while taking letrozole and no known food interactions. 

However, it may be helpful to avoid foods that contain phytoestrogens, as these compounds mimic estrogen in your body.

You may also want to consider limiting saturated fats, as letrozole is known to increase cholesterol levels in some people.

Can you drink coffee while taking letrozole?

Moderate coffee consumption may be fine while taking letrozole.

However, some people experience insomnia while taking letrozole.

If this is the case for you, you may want to consider cutting back on your caffeine intake.

How can I make letrozole more effective?

To make letrozole the most effective, take the medication exactly how your medical provider prescribed it for you, and be sure to have regular follow-up appointments. 

Adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and eating a balanced diet can also help support your overall health and may promote ovulation and better fertility.

References

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