Is milk good for fertility?


Other than people who are lactose intolerant, we all pretty much drink milk. The recommendation from many nutritional authorities is 3 cups per day, but is milk good for fertility? Well, there seems to be a couple different trains of thought on this issue, so let’s break it down and figure out what’s best for you.

For years and years, I drank only skim milk. Anything with more fat just made me gag quesy as skim was what I grew up with. Plus it’s what the doctors, and heads of medical communities, recommend that everyone over the age of two drink and I’m a rule follower. I was told to drink skim milk, so dog gone it, that’s what I did.

It wasn’t until I started researching natural fertility and ways to boost my chances of getting pregnant that I learned there could be a correlation between dairy and my fertility.

is milk good for fertility

Can milk increase fertility?

In a somewhat recent study, scientists found that women who consumed full-fat dairy were found to have a 27% lower risk of infertility. Women who consumed low-fat milk products twice a day were found to be twice as likely to not ovulate. This study seems to show that eating healthy fats, as are in milk, may be helpful in reproduction. Our bodies need this fat in order to maintain our cellular structure. Removing the fat from milk has actually been shown to cause an imbalance of hormones throughout the body, causing a failure to ovulate or produce a healthy egg.

So consuming full fat milk can definitely increase fertility in some women!

But not all milk is the same.

Downfalls of modern dairy

While I truly believe that all dairy farmers do care for the welfare of their animals, the simple fact is that the more animals a farm has, the more they need to resort to different ways to automate or change how they feed and care for them. A smaller dairy can more easily allow the cattle to roam the pasture during the day while bringing them into the barn at night. It would be near impossible to let out and bring in hundreds (or thousands) of cows every morning and night. So instead of letting them graze, many farmers keep their cattle indoors all day long in stanchion style stalls. Some barns are open to the outdoors, others are fully confined.

It seems that upwards of 80% of dairy cows are kept in confinement. Which is great for farmers as these cows actually produce more milk than their pasture counterparts, but it’s a disadvantage for the cows and for us as consumers. Keeping these cattle indoors may contribute to health and hoof issues as well as nutritional differences in the milk as the cows eat hay and grain instead of getting fresh green grass.

Cows now produce much more than what is needed to sustain a growing calf (by about 15 times), and they are also most often milked while they are pregnant which can change the hormonal composition of the milk depending on the trimester.

Another issue, that is hopefully becoming a thing of the past, is Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin, or rBST, a synthetic version of the Bovine somatotropin (BST). (also known as recombinant bovine growth hormone or rGBH) This hormone seems to be linked to early puberty in girls as well as causing hormone imbalances in older women. Milk from rBST treated cows also contains 2 to 10 times as much IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor) as normal cow’s milk. This is significant, because studies have found the risk of prostate cancer for men over 60 years of age with high levels of IGF-1 to be eight times greater than for men with low levels. And the risk of breast cancer for premenopausal women with increased blood levels of IGF-1 to be up to seven times greater. (source)

Please note – many dairy farmers have told me that sick cows are taken out of milking service until they have been treated (usually with antibiotics), and no antibiotics are allowed in the milk when sent for processing. So no matter where you source your milk, you can be pretty sure that here in the US there are regulations that do keep you safe from antibiotics in milk. 

A1 versus A2 controversy

In our modern dairies you’ll most likely find Holstein cows which produce milk that contains a protein called A1. This protein has been linked to dairy intolerance and many theorize that “lactose intolerance” is really the inability to break down this A1 protein.

“The A2 variety of beta-casein mutated into the A1 version several thousand years ago in some European dairy herds. Two genes code for beta-casein, so modern cows can either be purely A2, A1/A2 hybrids, or purely A1. Milk from goats and humans contains only the A2 beta-casein.” (source)

Some studies have also found that A1 protein may have a correlation with autism, type one diabetes, and some mental illness.

Here in the United States, the best way to get milk A2 content is to buy it from a dairy that uses A2-dominant cow breeds such as the Jersey, the Guernsey, or the Normande.

Is buying organic good enough?

Organic always seems to be a great option, but is it worth spending more at the store for it? It’s really going to depend on the brand and what farms the milk comes from! Some organic dairies are quite conventional and simply feed organic food to cows kept in confinement. Other farms let the animals graze outside.

Most organic milk I’ve seen is pasteurized using a process called ultrahigh temperature (UHT) in which the milk is briefly heated to 280 degrees Fahrenheit. This high temperature makes the milk stable for a very long time (it is actually shelf stable, but most stores sell it refrigerated as no one seems to want shelf stable milk…) but it also destroys many of the beneficial enzymes in the milk.


Pasteurization is the process of heating the milk to kill any dangerous bacteria that might be present. It became routine when dairies had very few regulations and the milk was often tainted – many people (especially babies) died from store-bought milk! Pasteurization in and of itself can be beneficial at keeping us safe (thought dairies are also much cleaner now!), but we do lose some of the benefits of fresh milk.

Some of the enzymes lost through heating include: lipase (helps digest fats) lactase (you need to digest lactose) and phosphatase (helps absorb calcium). Nutrients like folate, vitamins A, B6, B12, and C are also damaged along with the omega 3 fats. The proteins also change structure, but this is true of any cooked protein (beef, chicken, etc).

A study done in 1934, published in the Journal of Dairy Science, (back when they were first fighting to keep raw milk) showed a loss of 38% of the B complex vitamins. Another study done as a masters thesis at the University of Georgia in 1979 showed a 34.4% loss of vitamin B6, a 33.8% loss of thiamin (B1), and a 24.1% loss of folic acid. These losses were due just to heating the milk.(source)

Another study was done (didn’t write the year-sorry!) on rats fed either raw or pasteurized milk. It was shown that the heated milk was not capable of supporting the reproductive systems in these animals. Two female rats were fed a diet of sterilized milk for approximately 8 months. During this time they were each mated 15 times to male rats that had either been fed a raw milk or sterilized milk diet. No pregnancies were shown on any of these 15 occasions. Once a female was switched to a raw milk diet for 11 weeks, she was able to get pregnant when mated with a male, also from the raw milk group. (The Untold Story of Milk (available on Amazon))

Benefits of dairy from grass-fed cows

But we know from health and nutritional studies for humans that eating fresh foods is important, and the same thing goes for cows. Grass-fed cows simply produce milk with a better nutrient profile.

We know that milk from grass-fed cows is higher in nutrients like Vitamin K2 and cows that go outside have higher levels of Vitamin D in their milk – both are essential to a good fertility diet. It’s also 5 times higher in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a type of fat associated with a wide variety of health benefits, including immune and inflammatory system support, improved bone mass, improved blood sugar regulation, reduced body fat, reduced risk of heart attack, and maintenance of lean body mass. Grass-fed cows also produce milk with a healthier omega 3/omega 6 ratio.

Cow versus goat milk

Cows are simply mega milk producers and each cow can produce multiple gallons per day – it’s easy to see why it’s the preferred dairy animal here in the US! Plus, the cream naturally separates which makes it super easy to make butter (or ice cream). Nutritionally the milk from cows also contains more B12 and folate than goats milk, but cow dairy is also the number three allergy in children (may be due to the A1 protein).

Goats milk, on the other hand, is closest in structure to human milk and much easier to digest than cows milk, taking only 30 minutes to break down in your body, whereas cow milk can take 2-3 hours because of those larger fat globules. It contains a higher amount of medium-chain fatty acids (has 35% compared to cow’s 17%) and less lactose.

Another, less common option, is sheep’s milk. This is very similar to goat milk but creamier.


But can milk cause infertility?

I’ve been in this natural fertility world long enough that I have heard hundreds of women say that eliminating milk helped them balance their hormones. So let’s discuss a few ways that dairy may inhibit fertility:

  • It may contribute to mucous production, especially in those with lactose intolerance. Excess mucous production in the reproductive system of a woman may make the sperm’s journey more difficult. Mucous production also increases within the digestive system which may make it difficult to absorb needed nutrients.
  • The increased levels of estrogens in the milk (due to being milked during pregnancy) may upset our own hormonal balance. Now, there are some that say the chemical structure of cow estrogen is different from our own, and this is true. It can’t work in our bodies the way our estrogen does, but does it confuse the body? “The People” on the other side say that it does.
  • Non-organic dairy comes from cows eating feed that may contain pesticide residue. Any toxins that leave the body through milk do so in the fat, so full-fat milk products may contain pesticides and herbicides which are known endocrine disruptors.
  • If a person is intolerant to dairy it’s very possible that it’s causing inflammation in the body, which is bad news when you’re trying to get pregnant!

So – is milk good for fertility?

Should we be drinking milk when trying to conceive?

There is no perfect answer here, and it’s going to need to be based on your body and your situation. The best way to see how your body reacts to dairy is to cut it out completely (even butter) for one month and then add it back in for a few days to see if you feel any changes.

If you find that dairy doesn’t seem to bother you, let’s try to find the most nutritious milk we can! Your best bet is going to be to look for milk that is either fresh or low-heat pasteurized in order to preserve enzymes and nutrients. (“raw”/fresh milk can be done safely, do your research and interview your farmer!) Also look for dairy products sourced from grass-fed and organic-fed cows, preferably those that carry the A1 protein gene. You could even try switching to goat milk for a while.

My thought is that for many of us, milk can be a beneficial part of a fertility diet, but choosing the right kind of dairy can also make all the difference.

Donielle Baker

Donielle Baker

owner and editor of Natural Fertility and Wellness at Natural Fertility and Wellness
I believe women can learn how to heal their bodies & balance their hormones through natural methods. An advocate for natural health, I have a passion for nourishing/real food nutrition and natural living. My personal background includes both infertility and miscarriage and I started Natural Fertility and Wellness in 2008 in order to share all of the information I found helpful in my journey to heal from PCOS and overcome infertility.
Donielle Baker
Donielle Baker
Donielle Baker
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  1. Alison @ Wholesome Goodness

    I just love raw milk! Its taste is so far superior to pasteurized milk that I can’t even drink the store bought stuff anymore. I’ve also been amazed by how raw milk doesn’t cause digestive or allergy problems for me, while pasteurized milk does. I only hope I never have to go without a quality raw milk source.

  2. Crystal

    What do you think about soymilk?

  3. Anonymous

    I’m a raw milk convert. I have had irregular periods my whole life- borderline infertility. It took a whole two months of drinking whole raw Jersey milk, butter and free range raw eggs to regulate my cycles and allow immediate conception.

    Nothing else worked. I’m off for the duration of pregnancy ONLY, and then right back on the raw stuff! Hooray for a blog that isn’t written by sheeple!


  4. Amy @ Finer Things

    Great info! Stumbled… and tweeted… 🙂

  5. Julie

    About a year ago, I started drinking raw and am living proof of drinking the good stuff and eating pastured eggs – I’m pregnant! Our son is 5 and we’ve not used any birth control in about 8 years.

    Plus, the pasteurized milk causes my son to have a runny nose.

    • donielle

      @Julie, Congratulations Julie!!! How very exciting and how wonderful that your new little one is benefiting from your consumption of good foods while your pregnant too! Hope you have a great pregnancy!

  6. Amy

    I love the idea of raw milk. The problem is that I teach at an international school in Rwanda and I’m seriously concerned about bad bacteria in my fresh milk. I receive 5 liters per week, but simmer it for about an hour as soon as it comes into the house. Do you think that *any* heating is bad? I haven’t been able to find any websites that speak to this.

    • donielle

      @Amy, As far as I understand, the heating over 110 degrees causes the good enzymes and bacteria to die. Especially if you boil it for an hour, it’s probably pretty dead.

      But if I was in your situation, I can’t say I’d be doing anything differently! And at least it hasn’t been homogenized! And you could always make yogurt or kefir out of it to add back in some good bacteria as well.

      (As for the fertility link, I think it’s most important that it’s full fat and not skim)

  7. Kate

    Thanks! I’m always looking for more natural ideas, especially on pregnancy/fertility/baby stuff. I know too many people who say they “can’t” get pregnant and of course they eat tons of junk food and such. I just know things would be different if they ate differently but you can’t just go say that, you know? I’ve never had problems getting pregnant and we don’t use any birth control (I blogged about why awhile back) but this just confirms what I already thought!

    What do you think about raw milk use during pregnancy? I have two kids who are allergic at the moment (one who was exposed to pasteurized milk and a lot of other crap and really can’t handle it; one who was exposed very little and to a much better diet in general who I believe will outgrow it — he’s nearly 5 months and hasn’t had any dairy through me since 3 weeks old) and I would LOVE to know if it’s possible to “prevent” a dairy allergy/sensitivity by consuming raw milk during pregnancy.

    • donielle

      @Kate, I know what you mean about telling others to change their diet. I have many, MANY friends that still have empty arms and it’s so hard to bite my tongue. I’ve shared my story and my thoughts on nutrition, but that’s all I can do.

      As for raw milk during pregnancy; safety wise, I don’t see a problem with it. I drank it and didn;t have any issues, though it’s something each woman would have to decide for herself.
      As for preventing a food sensitivity; I don’t know. I do know that when I was pregnant with my son I drank a lot of skim milk during pregnancy and while nursing. He can’t tolerate pasteurized milk AT ALL. He’s better with raw goats milk, but can do raw cows milk if needed. I drank raw milk during my pregnancy with my daughter and at 8 months old, she has shown no signs of a milk sensitivity while nursing. So I don’t know if it’s just not in her genes, or if it was the raw milk, or just an all around better diet that helped her. But I do think consuming great dairy like raw milk is great for growing babies!

    • Jami

      I have been trying to conceive for 7 years and take exceptional care of my body. I have tried every natural remedy I can. Sometimes it is really unexplained and not anybody’s fault that they can’t conceive.

      • donielle

        @Jami, Yup, you’re exactly right. I highly believe that while food and natural living are key to healing the body, we also live in a fallen and broken world where our bodies don’t always work as we’d hope.

        I’m so sorry for your struggles.

  8. tonya

    you’ve probably seen me posting on katie’s kitchen stewardship blog. i grew up on a small dairy farm in northern michigan & studied animal science at michigan state university.

    there are numerous inaccuracies about the dairy industry in this post.

    first, there is NO incentive for farmers to put mastitic milk into the food supply. in fact, farmers get a premium for producing milk with a low scc (somatic cell count – high #’s are an indicator of mastitis) & get money taken away for producing milk with a high scc count. milk IS NOT puss.

    there is a ZERO tolerance policy for antibiotics in milk. milk cows who are treated with antibiotics for mastitis does not enter the food supply until after the drug’s withdrawl time has been observed. milk from all farms is tested for antibiotic residue.

    finally, rBST is identical to BST, which is found in all cow’s milk. rBST is created by a process similar to the one used to make insulin. BST & rBST are peptide hormones. peptides are amino acids, the building blocks of protein, & are digested in your stomach. thus, there is no concern in consuming milk from rBST cows or cows in general, since all milk has BST in it. i would love to see the citations for the claims you make about milk from rBST treated cows.

    this all being said, i was raised on a diet of raw milk from our bulk tank & fully support those who want to drink raw milk. I shy away from anything but red cap vitamin d milk when it comes to the grocery store.

    finally, an article that sums up my thoughts on organic milk, if anyone is leaning in that direction:

    • donielle

      @tonya, Thank you for your thoughts and the dialogue it started. My thoughts are very much in line with Jenny’s from Nourished Kitchen. And even if antibiotics, mastitis, and rBST were not of any concern, I’d still shy away from it due to the changes that take place during pasteurizing.

      My information and facts come from sources like and both of which I highly trust. Plus the fact that I’ve heard to many stories of healing from folks on raw milk!

  9. Shanna Ohmes

    I grew up on raw goats milk, raised my kids on it for several years, and now buy it locally when it is available. I am hoping more small homesteaders will get into this movement in my area and be providers for those that want it. Thanks for posting about raw milk!

  10. kia

    A few months before trying to conceive my husband and I bought a cow share for the raw milk. In Colorado it is illegal to buy raw milk, but not part of a cow. We toured the farm and talked to the bovine vets who run the operation prior to buying in. I chose not to drink milk just because I did not like practices of how animals and humans are treated in large operations. Concern for residual artificial hormones and antibiotics were a secondary concern, but were there. We were getting the share for my husband but I am a convert. On the road to having a baby I began learning about drinking whole fat milk if I drank dairy because of some of hormones that bind with fat that are lost during processing for lower fat dairy products. That is a key component I think people struggling with fertility need to learn. I love supporting my local dairy now, I know the conditions the cows are kept in, I can talk to the vets/owners when I want, and my milk is tested for four major bacterium two days before I get it. For me it is raw milk or vegan milk.

    • donielle

      @kia, Good for you for taking such care in the milk you drink! It’s so important to know where our milk comes from and how it’s produced. We too have a cow/goat share program and if for some reason it was taken from us, we too would go with non dairy milk, as the way conventional cows are treated is not only deplorable but the milk is unhealthy to drink!

    • Rose

      Hi Kia!
      I realize I am replying to an old post but I am hoping you may still get this.. I also live in CO and have never had raw milk and have no idea where to start looking or how to start looking, cleanliness, etc. I would love the name of the farm/s you recommend. Thank you!

  11. Jenny @ Nourished Kitchen

    Tanya –
    Is easy to cling to the methods of an outdated system – as though consumers, like myself, who want something different ought to learn just to like what the industry wants to feed us; however, we make our choices with education, care and concern.

    First, while industrial dairy farmers may not have a financial incentive to sell milk with a high or moderately-high SCC count, that doesn’t mean that mastitic milk doesn’t make it to the general market. I, for one, want my milk to come from health cows. Heat, stress, udder health and other factors influence the health of dairy cows and cows without access to pasture are more likely to become ill. Once the milk goes to the bulk tank, it’s impossible to judge whether the whole herd is ill or just a few individual cows and as long as that SCC count in the bulk tank is acceptable for the price – it gets sold and goes into the mouths and bellies of the American public. Milk from sick cows is not acceptable to me.

    Despite your lip service paid to a “zero tolerance” for antibiotics in milk, and while many industrial milk producers have taken efforts to come into compliance with FDA standards regarding antibiotic residue in milk, until every farmer removes treated cows from the herd, there will still be antibiotic and disinfectant residue in milk and that is unacceptable to me as a consumer. Studies indicate that even with best practices, these residues remain in milk. Moreover, many of the tests are inaccurate and don’t yield the same results when testing milk. And FDA standards still allow milk with limited antibiotic residue levels into the milk supply. That, to me, is unacceptable. The cow share in which I participate treats cows with antibiotics only when absolutely necessary, and NEVER returns them to the herd from which cow share recipients draw their milk.

    Regarding, rBST and BST may appear to be ostensibly the same regarding the chemical make up; however, there is a striking difference. Cows treated with rBST are hyperstimulated and will produce an unnaturally large amount of milk; moreover, they also see an increase in other hormones in response. The problem isn’t BST, but what an unnaturally large infusion of a hormone does to the milk of the cow. A 1996 study pinpointed rBST as a risk factor for breast and gastrointestinal cancers. Again, not acceptable.

    What you failed to address in your comment was pesticide levels in industrial milk. 92% of conventional milk is tainted by DPA, 85% of conventional milk is tainted by DDE (a known carcinogen), 23% is tainted by dieldren (a known carcinogen and suspected hormone disruptor), 21% is tainted by cyhalothrin (a suspected hormone disruptor), 15% is contaminated by Endosulfan sulfate, 6% is contaminated by 3-hydroxycarbofuran (a neurotoxin) and the list goes on and on and on.

    Moreover, milk from conventionally raised cows lacks CLA, beta carotene and retinol by comparison to milk from grass-fed cows.

    Clean milk is what consumers want, and should receive.

    • tonya

      @Jenny @ Nourished Kitchen,

      you mention a lot of “facts”. do you have sources for them, or are they just word of mouth from other bloggers? i should also point out that not all conventional dairy farmers are “industrial” dairy farmers. in fact, Aamost 90 percent of U.S. farms are operated by individuals or family corporations. My family milked approximately 30 head in a stanchion barn & sold milk via the michigan milk producers co-operative.

      a farm’s bottom line is a very thin line. there is no financial incentive to introduce mastitic milk to the food supply. you are right that milk is co-mingled in the bulk tank, first on the farm, then during transport & finally at the processing plant. since you agree that a large farm has no incentive to introduce mastitic milk to the food supply (I presume since they’re producing such a volume of milk) let’s talk about small farms. if, on a small farm, a cow’s wildly mastitic milk is put in the bulk tank, it’s being co-mingled with a smaller volume of milk & thus will have a greater impact on the farm’s overall scc reading & impact the farmer’s income. thus, there’s no incentive for the small farmer to introduce mastitic milk to the food supply either. once milk is co-mingled in the bulk tank, it is indeed possible to tell the general overall health of the herd. if a farmer was placing the milk of several mastitic cows into their bulk tank, that would increase the overall scc count of their farm’s milk much higher than if it was just one cow.

      finally, have you seen mastitic milk? it can get pretty clumpy & gnarly. if there was as much mastitic milk in the food supply as you’d like people to believe, it’d be pretty easy to tell.

      please show me evidence that the FDA allows antibiotic residue in milk, their tests are inaccurate & rBST is a risk factor for cancer. if your cow share farm does not return cows treated for mastitis to the herd, are they culled (sent to slaughter, sold)? further, if they do occasionally treat with antibiotics, it can’t be an organic farm so you must be drinking milk with pesticide residues, correct?

      not sure if you read katie’s kitchen stewardship or not, but i’ve already address the issue of CLA. all milk contains it, but studies do show that grass fed cattle do produce milk with more CLA’s.

      pesticides were not mentioned in the original article, so i did not address it in my post.

  12. Jenny @ Nourished Kitchen

    Tanya –
    Yes, of course, I source my information accurately. All good bloggers, journalists, writers and consumers do. But, where’s your data sourced? MSN?

    Yes, I’m also aware – and undoubtedly most other readers on this thread are aware – that 90% of milk farmers are considered small, family-run farms. The point is moot since many small, family-run farms still practice unsavory, conventional practices. Being a “family-run” farm doesn’t equal sainthood and it certainly doesn’t mean that you practice optimal techniques to maximize the nutrient-density of your milk.

    You’ve repeated yourself that there’s no financial incentive to introduce mastitic milk into the supply. And I’ve agreed with you – milk with high SCC counts result in reduced income. But it still makes it to the bulk tank – and, from there, into the food supply. That is not acceptable. If a cow is raised on pasture with access to shelter instead of in a climate-controlled building and fed on grain, the cow is more likely to enjoy good health and her milk will be more nutrient-dense. But of course, that takes up a lot of space and influences the bottom line of dairy farmers.

    And, yes, I HAVE seen mastitic milk when visiting an industrial dairy farm and it was gnarly. The dairy – a nice dairy – reeked of cows and manure. By contrast, I’ve also visited small grass-based operations and they were infinitely cleaner places with undoubtedly healthier cows.

    The FDA allows a “safe tolerance level” of 10 ppb in milk for the following antibiotics (ampicillin, amoxicillin, cloxacillin), 20 ppb of cephapirin, 50 ppb of ceftiofur and 5 ppb of penicillin. None of the tests regularly available test for all antibiotics, and the FDA only requires them to detect only 4 of the 6 commonly used antibiotics. (Sourced from FDA, North Carolina State University CES).

    As for the farm from which I source my milk, none of the cows have been put on antibiotics, yet. They practice holistic pasture management, optimal care and natural, homeopathic remedies first. However, the farmer reserves the right to treat them with antibiotics with the understanding the cow will not be returned to the herd ever. Whether its culled or kept for other uses makes no difference to me. And, you’re right, it’s not a certified Organic farm – and they’ve no intention to go through the expense and bureaucracy of becoming a certified organic farm and I support them in that. The Organic label, for me, makes little difference. I want to see the farm and its practices before I support it. Regarding pesticide residue in my milk, the cows feed on native flora from untreated fields NOT the pesticide-tainted gmo grain and soy that’s found on all those “family run” farms of which you seem to speak so highly.

    Yes, all dairy contains CLA; however milk and cream from pasture-fed cows contains SIGNIFICANTLY more than that of cows raised on those farms practicing conventional methods. For example, a conventionally fed cow will produce cream that contains about 30 mg CLA per tablespoon, but a cow fed on pasture will produce cream that contains about 145 mg CLA per tablespoon of cream. That’s a big difference.

    While pesticides weren’t mentioned in the original post, you’ve still yet to address them. 92% of conventional milk contains DPA and 85% is tainted by DPE. Those are pretty big numbers.

    • Tonya

      @Jenny @ Nourished Kitchen,

      I sourced MSN for the organic milk article because as a layman’s press article it does a great job of surmising published research data, which may not be as readily understood. i would be happy to source you to the research data although it will take me some time to do so. i do have other things going on.

      so you contend that farmers dleiberately lower their income by introducing mastitic milk into the food supply? that makes no sense. why would they do that? you also agree that 90% of farms are family farms yet you also consider them industrial. what is “industrial” in your mind? anything other than grazing, no grain & no antibiotics? you say you don’t care what happens to culled cows, so are you okay with them being sent to slaughter? that sounds rather “disposable”. if they can’t continue to produce milk w/o treatment for mastitis they’re gone.

    • Tonya

      @Jenny @ Nourished Kitchen,

      further info on SCC

      The SCC values for all herds on the DHIA SCC program for 2004 were recently
      released by the Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory in the ARS branch of USDA.
      The data show very interesting and encouraging information. The 2004 national
      average SCC value for DHIA herds was 295,000 cells/ml. This is the first time that the
      yearly average value has gone below 300,000. Eighteen states averaged fewer than
      300,000 for the year, while only 7 states averaged over 400,000. No states averaged
      above 500,000 which is a very encouraging indicator of the continual improvement in
      milk quality in the U.S.

      [b]Other data reported for 2004 showed that the SCC averages decreased as the size of
      the dairy herds increased. [/b] Larger herds usually have people specialized in and
      responsible for only certain tasks, which allow them the time to do their jobs more
      thoroughly and accurately. Consequently, the factors that affect cow udder health (as
      indicated by SCC values) are usually given closer attention in larger herds, with the
      result being lower average SCC values. (extension publication –

    • Tonya

      @Jenny @ Nourished Kitchen,

      here’s one page (of many) of collected extension publications for dairy farm improvement. extension is tax dolalr funded. if most of the family farmers are cutthroats like you ellude to, why is this info being produced with tax payer money, just to fall on deaf ears?

  13. Jenny @ Nourished Kitchen

    Also … I just wanted to mention that the connection between treating dairy cows with synthetic hormones and human cancer risk is wide and well-documented. Perhaps the most compelling analysis comes from the the International Journal of Health Services in which researchers conclude:

    Levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) are substantially elevated and more bioactive in the milk of cows hyperstimulated with the biosynthetic bovine growth hormones rBGH, and are further increased by pasteurization. IGF-1 is absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract, as evidenced by marked growth-promoting effects even in short-term tests in mature rats, and absorption is likely to be still higher in infants. Converging lines of evidence incriminate IGF-1 in rBGH milk as a potential risk factor for both breast and gastrointestinal cancers.

    Again, this isn’t about whether rBST is the same, chemically speaking, as naturally occuring BST; rather, it’s about what the cascade of abnormal levels of hormones do to the milk when a cow is hyperstimulated with rBST (which for other readers who many not be aware, is a different name for rBGH).

    • Tonya

      @Jenny @ Nourished Kitchen,

      Insulin-like growth factor one (IGF-1) is a protein and a natural component of milk from
      all cows and humans. The amount of IGF-1 in milk of cows increases slightly after rbST
      supplementation but does not exceed normal concentrations in milk of cows or the
      concentrations in human milk (Table 1 – I’ve reproduced it below). IGF-1, like other proteins, is broken into smaller peptides and amino acids in the digestive tract of humans before it can be
      absorbed. Therefore, IGF-1, like bST, is digested in the stomach and intestines of
      humans before it can be absorbed. (an extension prublication – )

      Source of milk | IGF-1(ppb)
      Cows (no rbST)
      After calving |150
      Early lactation (day 7) | 25
      Late lactation (day 200) | 1 to 5
      Cows injected with rbST | 6 to 14

      Human milk
      At birth | 29
      3 to7 days after birth | 9
      6 to 8 weeks after birth | 18

  14. Ann Davies

    Where do you get your facts from? If these are true thank goodness I DON’T live in America.
    I milk 330 herd of Jersey cows here in the UK. The milk is tested daily for anti-biotics. The slightest trace found in the milk and the whole lot gets poured down the drain and we don’t get paid.
    Out of 330 cows, only 4 have mastitis ie. 1% (so where does 40% come from?)
    I NEVER drink milk thats been mucked around with. I only drink RAW full cream milk fresh from the cow. Yummy, there is nothing like it.
    Skim milk yuck, don’t they feed that to pigs? Or they used to!

    • donielle

      @Ann Davies, Ann, most of my facts come from either the book “The untold story of milk” or from and All are good sources for real and true information and I have never been led astray by them! I believe here in the U.S. they just get paid less for milk but it’s still bought as long as it doesn’t go over the minimum requirement for ‘ickiness’. 🙂

  15. Ann

    Quote from THIS website: “I’ve also heard that up to 40% of our milk supply comes from cows that have infections in the udders, called mastitis,…”
    Quote from: “Around 40 per cent of the national herd suffers from mastitis or udder infection …..”
    I have worked on numerous dairy farms, the smallest 37cows to 1,000 cows in the UK and Australia. I’m currently milking 330 Jersey cows and ONLY TWO of them have mastitis (ie. 0.6%). These cows are milked last so the milk DOES NOT go for human consumption.
    In the UK, any antibiotics found in milk results in farmers NOT getting paid and the milk destroyed. The milk is tested DAILY by the dairy.
    The raw Jersey milk fresh from the bulk tank is delicious, cool and creamy. Nothing in the supermarket can compare it for flavor! Yummy.

    • donielle

      @Ann, How fabulous! I’d love to believe it’s the same here in the U.S. , but so much of what I read states otherwise.

  16. Rose

    Hi Donielle!
    I have recently switched to a vegan diet and have noticed a difference in my fertility the past couple of months. I am trying to get pregnant so I am willing to have a serving or whatever is needed of dairy each day in order to get fertility on track again. My question is whether or not goats milk would be just as effective? Also, I’m not familiar with unpasteurized milk or raw milk. Are there any supposed dangers to drinking it? Thank you for your time 🙂

    • Donielle @ Naturally Knocked Up

      @Rose, Rose, first I must comment on the vegan diet thing as I feel from the research I’ve done that it’s not a diet that will help sustain fertility or nourish a new little baby. If you are unable for some reason to eat muscle meat, I would highly suggest you eat plenty of other animal products like whole milk, eggs, butter, etc. The nutrients contained in animal foods are highly beneficial! Fat and cholesterol (cholesterol is only found in animal products) help to produce our hormones, and progesterone is actually reliant on cholesterol for it’s manufacturing. The very fact that you mention your fertility is changing makes me suspect that something is missing from your diet in a very large way. It may also be an issue if you are consuming nuts, legumes, and grains that have not been properly soaked as they would pull more nutrients from your body than what you’re able to put back in. I don’t ever like to tell someone how they eat is ‘wrong’, just that if you find your health (fertility included) deteriorating something needs to change.

      As to how many servings…it’s really going to vary depending on how many other animal products you consume. At least a few would be my recommendation. To the safety of raw milk – I personally think that as long as you find a farm that’s clean and has a great system, it’s perfectly safe. You can check out for a lot of other information regarding the safety as well as a list of farms where you’s be able to [purchase it. And yes – goats milk would be just as effective as long as it’s raw. (it’s actually what we drink at my house!)

      • Rose

        @Donielle- Thank you for the very helpful info! I am glad you said something about the vegan diet (which I love) but lately it has been something that concerns me regarding fertility. It may have to be something I start again after children.
        I am very excited that goats milk is just as effective, as it is my preference! Were you on goats milk when you were able to conceive?
        Thank you so much again 🙂

        • donielle

          @Rose, With my first it was still before our whole foods changes and I was still drinking skim. Trying to get pregnant though was tough as I had only ovulated twice the entire year. With my second we were consuming all whole foods, including goat milk, and I was able to regulate my cycles for the first time ever, making getting pregnant a bit easier as I could finally pin point ovulation.

          And personally I feel the vegan diet does have some merit, just not for a long or sustaining diet. It can be great for cleansing (which is why so many people feel good initially) a few times per year, but my own thoughts are that it shouldn’t be followed for more than a week or two at a time (many vegans suffer after months or years on the diet). Our body’s need the break from animal foods, yet they also regularly need the nourishment. And especially when trying to concieve, nourishment and nutrient dense foods are pivotal!

  17. Ellie

    I’ve long been an advocate for whole milk for the fertility issues mentioned above, and I try to buy organic whenever it’s available, but for some reason I can’t make myself switch to raw! We even have a very fairly priced farm nearby, and a local organic market who sells raw milk, but there’s just something about it that grosses me out and makes me scared to drink it while pregnant, give it to my son, etc., even after doing all the research and BELIEVING that it’s healthier and perfectly safe.

    I guess it just goes to show how much media and “well, I had a friend who had a friend who had a friend who knew someone who DIED from raw milk” stories effect our brains. Even when I feel like I believe one thing (that raw milk is good) my actions say something else (raw milk is scary)!

    Anyway, thanks for the great post, and you have made me look at my milk-buying decisions!

  18. JamieInWyoming

    Hi everyone. I know I am very late coming to this thread, but I am concerned about my dairy consumption. If you google “PCOS dairy” EVERY listing says if you have PCOS, to get rid of all dairy in your diet. I have recently converted to a grain free, potato free, basically fruit free and refined sugar free diet. (I have a *touch* of agave nectar on my homemade full fat yogurt, and a tablespoon of raw honey to help with my allergies.) Other than that, my diet is meat, veggies and dairy. (see

    I feel pretty good, I have lost weight even without excercise, (starting that tomorrow) and I am not hungry at all….although I certainly miss grains and have the daily fight to avoid sugary foods. (To make matters WORSE, I make homemade candy for a living. I am SOOOOO proud of myself!)

    Most PCOS diets say lots of fruits, whole grains and no dairy. I watched a video from Dr. Michael Fox of Jacksonville Center for Reproductive Medecine, and he recommends the diet on He said claims that by using metformin and this diet (as opposed to just the metformin), his PCOS patients went from a 45% conception rate to 90%….just from including real butter, animal fats and cutting out all sugar, most all fruit and all grain.

    Let me tell you, I am 41, lifetime PCOS’er who finally found the man of her dreams and wants a baby…NOW. This conception rate was music to my ears, but everything he swears by is completely OPPOSITE to everything else I see on the web and read in my books.

    Someone…anyone…please help.

    Jamie In Wyoming

    • JamieInWyoming


      Of COURSE I misspelled the website….

      You can find the video from Dr Michael D Fox on youtube or dietdoctor site, its called “How to eat to ge pregnant.”

    • donielle

      @JamieInWyoming, The thing is with PCOS is that the “cause” of it is different for each woman, so diet must be different as well. Many women I have talked to have had fabulous success with a grain free/sugar free diet.Some can tolerate dairy and some can’t. Really, the only way to find out if it’s a problem for you is to cut it out for 3-4 weeks to see if you notice any physical changes and then try and reintroduce it one day to see if you notice any negative changes.
      There are a couple posts here that focus on PCOS:
      Some women have also found that they could get results like using metformin with other things like apple cider vinegar in their water or by using adaptogenic herbs like maca. Other women have not gone that route, but instead used metformin (and dealt with the side effects) short term while they tried to get their diet under control. Because if the food you eat isn’t nourishing or healing your body, it doesn’t matter what herbs or meds you use, you’ll still see PCOS symptoms. I don’t think (from a quick glance) that the diet the “diet doctor” recommends is odd – in fact more and more women are going to this type of diet and seeing great results. To fin good recipes just search for “grain-free”, “paleo”, and “primal”.

      • JamieInWyoming


        Donielle, thank you for your reply. I have found your website to be a wealth of information, and I will soon be purchasing your book AND some Maca, lol. I am already doing the raw apple cider vinegar in my water. 🙂 (how much a day???)

        I changed the way I was eating a few weeks ago, but slipped up on my 41st bday with a few too many shots of tequilla and then someone guilted me into eating a piece of “birthday lemon bars” they had made for my party. That has been my only slip up, and it caused me to gain a bunch of weight back literally overnight. I am going to continue with the grain/sugar free for the next few weeks, and cut out the agave now that I read your sugar detox last night. I am PRAYING my nubian doe is bred and that soon I will have wondeful, fresh, raw goats milk to drink and make my own butter, cheese and cream. I have also been doing gentle excercise, fertility self massage and castor oil packs. I have definitley notice changes in the way my “girl parts” feel, shall we say? I have not had a real period since August of 2011, and then I was almost hospitalized from blood loss. I have started spotting since changing my diet, which is amazing…although irritating, lol.

        I am taking a lot of vitamin supplements (B complex, Vit D3, Cal/Mag, Vit E, Fish Oil) and as soon as I get paid, I will be getting some Maca and Vitex. I tried Metformin years ago and UGH did it make me sick. I will give all the completely natural stuff until October to work (we get married on the 12th). Once we are married, Im hitting the metformin.

        All my best, and God bless you for your help.

        Jamie In Wyoming

        • donielle

          @JamieInWyoming, Usually people like the taste of about 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar per cup of water. I usually just put a splash of it in with my water. 🙂

          It sounds like you’re doing a lot of wonderful things for your body! Keep up the good work and know that even if you do end up with some type of medication, the way you’re nourishing your body now will only benefit you in the long run.

          Many blessings!

  19. Susan

    Thank you for your article Donielle. I’ve been trying to get into raw milk and cream because I hear of the fertility benefits, but for some reason every time I have raw dairy, specifically high fat dairy like cream or butter, I will consistently have unusual spotting and PMS-like symptoms like irritability, swollen breasts and acne. This kind of reaction seems so extreme, and it inclines me to believe that raw milk may not be so good after all. I keep persisting, thinking that my body just needs time to get used to it. This never happens with pasteurized dairy. My hypothesis is that the hormones in raw milk are denatured in the pasteurization process. But, if pasteurized dairy is nutritionally poor, and raw dairy is so hormonally reactionary, then it seems like dairy is not good at all. I’ve looked everywhere to see if anyone else has had this kind of reaction, but all I see are people rejoicing in the great results they’ve had. Have you ever heard of this type of reaction before? Is it just a normal part of the transition process? I don’t want to needlessly eliminate such a lauded health food.

    • donielle

      @Susan, Hmm, interesting. I have heard of people having slight, not-so-great changes in their health when it comes to raw milk, almost like a “detox” of some sort that usually sorts itself out.

      This thought is totally not based on anything but theory, but I wonder if the hormones in the pasteurized milk might be what your body is basing it’s hormone production off of. So when you switch to raw, those hormones aren’t present and it’s causing adverse effects. AGAIN – I have no idea if this is also possible, but if you think it might be the hormones in the raw milk, it’d be interesting to think about it the other way around too. I do know that a lot of milk comes from cows not treated with hormones, so that would put it in the same playing field as raw milk cows.

      I also don’t know if hormones are denatured through processing like fats, proteins, and vitamins are. Though this article ( says that BST, the bovine growth hormone, is destroyed during pasteurization. But it also states that it BST should not have any effect on us because our cell receptors wouldn’t accept it anyway.

      The one thing that’s for certain, is that not everyone can eat every food. There are a lot of people with an intolerance to dairy (and not just because of the lactose). People of Asian decent and those who live closest to the equator tend to be more intolerant to it. Women with endometriosis tend to find that dairy bothers them and makes their symptoms worse. So I think it’s really important to follow your body’s lead. You could try an elimination diet and cut out milk, butter, and cheese for a month and see if you notice if you feel better and then try and add it back in and see if you feel any negative affects.

  20. Lactose Intolerance

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  21. Michael

    Dear Team

    Further to reaching your article and knowing that i have been facing some fertility problem, i would like to take your opinion on the matter .

    We got our first child 6 years ago with no problem and even without having to worry about anything, my wife used to be a full time employee and i am self-employed. In the past two years we have been trying to get our second child, but with no luck, we did several tests and we noticed that i have some count problems whereas in my first sperm test, my total count was 15,000,000 so my Dr gave me a 3 months treatment which suppose to help, unfortunately 2 months after i ended the treatment, i had a severe illness with high fever for almost a week. A week later i did another sperm test and found out that my count has dropped to 2,000,000 while all other indices shows a good progress.

    I am really confused if my illness caused this drop or the way i am eating, i used to drink fresh cow milk since my childhood and for the past 2 years, i switched to Zero Fat Milk and since the result of second test, i have thinking what could be the cause until i remembered that i have stopped fresh cow milk since almost 2 years.

    Do you think stopping drinking cow has affected my sperm health in a way or another, i used to last with my intimate relation with my wife, now i come so fast, I even do not last for more than 2 minutes.

    I hope i can hear your opinion, as i am really upset and frustrated from my situation and somehow depressed.


  22. M B

    Hi Donielle! (these posts are old, so hoping you still get these posts!)

    I just came across your website / blog and its very informative.

    I’ve been struggling with infertility for 4.5 years and just cant seem to get pregnant. We had a failed IVF cycle almost a year ago. Since then, we have switched to organic fruits / vegetables, and I just purchased some whole full fat, raw milk. Im also taking maca, chia seeds, wheatgrass, juicing, smoothies, and also taking some vitamins.

    Hopefully we can FINALLY get pregnant on our own. Any ideas on how to make eqq quality better!?

    • Donielle Baker

      It sounds like you’re doing a lot of really great things! Along with everything you’re doing, just watch your processed food and sugar consumption, and remember that eggs have a 3 month maturation cycle. So what you’re doing now will have the most benefit on the eggs a couple months from now!

  23. Anna

    Great post Donielle! I actually posted an article on my blog a week or so ago about dairy and infertility. I want to share two things I learned while researching it, and during my personal infertility to miracle baby journey. 1- Dairy in any form can absolutely cause infertility if you have an intolerance/allergy to lactose or casein. So, for some women, completely eliminating all dairy may be what they need to reduce inflammation and immune response and get pregnant. 2- I went back and read the actual study done on the high fat/low fat women. The results that have been so widely reported are somewhat skewed! First- they only did their analysis on women with anovulatory disorders, so it makes sense that skinny women who aren’t ovulating would need high fat milk to nourish them back to ovulation. Second- the data was gathered in the 1990s when all the low-fat dairy products were loaded with milk. They showed the highed correclation between continued infertility and high consumption of low-fat frozen yogurt or sherbert!!! Loaded with sugar!!! Which, as we all know can impair egg health. Isn’t that crazy?