• Dr Peter Chew

Soya and Fertility

Q.I am trying to conceive for about 6 months I have been taking soya bean milk every morning and bean curd and tofu frequently, thinking that soy products are good for health. Recently, friends have been advising me to avoid soy products. How does soy affect fertility?

A. Soy contains plant-derived female hormones called isoflavones. They have a very weak effect on human body and have been used in relieving  people with menopausal symptoms.

Experimental animal studies have suggested that eating large amounts of soy might reduce fertility. But these results may not be applicable to the human beings.

A few reports did suggest that high levels of isoflavones may decrease female fertility by interfering with the levels of pituitary hormones which stimulate the growth of the egg and ovulation. But the quantities of soy products eaten were extremely large and the statistics in countries in East Asia where soy products are consumed often showed that the birth rate is similar to, if not, were more than, in countries where soy is not normally consumed.

Studies also did not find variations in fertility from soy consumption in healthy couples indicating that normal intake of soy is basically harmless.

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