In the race to conceive, fertility is the name of the game. So it’s understandable if you are on the hunt for tips and tricks to boost you and your partner’s chances of falling pregnant. Amongst all the information out there, you might have stumbled across fertility vitamins and supplements. They sound amazing – knock back a pill to get knocked up! But what are they? Do they work? And should you be taking them? Let’s pop the lid on fertility vitamins and supplements.
What are fertility vitamins and supplements?
Fertility vitamins are specific vitamins that are said to benefit fertility – whether that’s your reproductive system, the quality of your eggs, or the health of your partner’s sperm (fertility and conception are a 50/50 job, girlfriend). Fertility supplements are a lovely, pre-packaged product that contain these specific vitamins.
What are the best fertility vitamins?
Consult the literature, and there are a handful of vitamins that are discussed as providing potential benefit to fertility in both men and women. Here’s a top 10 fertility and what the research says about each:
Folic acid has been linked to lower rates of infertility and greater success in infertility treatments. [Googles: How to get folic acid delivered now]. You might also know folic acid as folate – folic acid is the synthetic version of folate and is often used in vitamins and supplements.
Consumption of iron has been linked to a decreased risk of ovulatory infertility – scientific speak for issues with ovulation. Ovulation is a crucial part of trying to conceive – it refers to the phase in your menstrual cycle where your egg drops from your ovary to your fallopian tube, where, in theory, it meets your partner’s sperm to be fertilized. So anything that can help promote ovulation is a bonus.
Prolonged Vitamin B12 deficiency may cause changes in ovulation or your egg development, leading to implantation and infertility issues. In addition, higher levels of Vitamin B12 and folate have been connected to increased success rates in those undertaking fertility treatment.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids appear to improve fertility in women by helping with reproductive function and improved egg quality.
Observational studies report that Vitamin D deficiency may be linked to reduced fertility, although more research is needed.
You might know Vitamin C for its immune-boosting benefits. But what about its fertility-boosting benefits? This next bit is a bit science-y, so stick with us.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant. Antioxidants help cancel out the effects of free radicals, which are nasty little molecules in your body that are often the product of external toxins like pollution, cigarette smoke, and medications. If too many free radicals build up in your body, you might experience oxidative stress. This can affect fertility, particularly in men.
Thanks to its antioxidant status, Vitamin C can help improve egg quality and encourage more regular menstrual cycles in women and has been shown to help improve sperm count in men.
Vitamin E is another awesome antioxidant. It has been said to help combat reproductive disorders in women. And for men, studies have indicated that when taken with Vitamin C, Vitamin E may help improve sperm health.
Or CoQ10 for short. This is yet another antioxidant. It’s thought to increase egg quality and help improve ovulation for women and has been proven to benefit sperm quality in men.
While you might associate Miss Melatonin with sleep (it’s used to help treat insomnia and other sleep issues), it is, in fact, a promising treatment for infertility. It’s also suggested that melatonin might increase your chances of success when taken during IVF treatment.
Last but not least, research shows selenium plays a key role in reproductive health. Many studies have found links between its intake and fertility. In men, in particular, selenium deficiency may cause the deterioration of sperm health (eek!). One study calls its supplementation “in the procreation period” of “utmost significance” for both men and women.
Do fertility vitamins work?
Here’s where things get a little fuzzy. Despite the research noted above, the question as to whether fertility vitamins actually help you get pregnant is up in the air. Studies show that links have been found between these vitamins and fertility, but not between these vitamins and pregnancy.
However, they’re increasingly in demand, and market research into the world of fertility vitamins and supplements has reported that these little pills are big business – like $400 million a year big. So clearly, people want and are taking them.
The question of whether fertility vitamins and supplements work is difficult. And that’s because we’re all different, with different health needs and requirements.
Yes, taking fertility vitamins might help contribute to you and your partner’s ability to conceive. Or that positive pregnancy test might come from one of the other lifestyle changes you may have made while figuring out how to get pregnant. You might never know.
But, when it comes to fertility, there are many elements that might be out of your control. Some medical conditions, like PCOS and erectile dysfunction, simply predispose you to fertility troubles (f*ck you, nature). In this instance, despite your best efforts, no vitamin is likely to help on this particular path to motherhood (although a fertility doctor possibly can).
Should you take a fertility supplement?
Whether you decide to take fertility vitamins is your choice. But it’s essential to consider the science behind them and your specific health circumstances.
It’s best to speak to your family doctor, OB-GYN, or fertility doctor before you make any lifestyle changes or take any fertility vitamins or supplements on your journey to parenthood or as part of your prenatal care. They will review you and your partner’s health history and your family planning goals to make informed recommendations from there.
And rather than taking fertility vitamins, perhaps explore prenatal vitamins. Prenatal vitamins don’t help you fall pregnant, but they do help with your baby’s growth throughout pregnancy (even in the very early stages when you don’t know you’ve conceived, which is why experts recommend taking them while you’re trying). Plus, many of the fertility vitamins mentioned above can be found in plenty of the prenatal vitamins on the market anyway.
What you do and don’t take while trying to conceive and during pregnancy is your decision. But, the information in this article does not replace good, solid medical advice. So please consult your doctor if you have any questions about your health, especially what vitamins and supplements to take.