Are Fertility Supplements Evidence
An evidence-based practicewhether it be a medication, intervention or therapy, complementary treatment, or even the way a provider communicates about careis a practice thats been thoroughly examined via appropriate research and found to make a significant difference in patient outcomes. Evidence-based is the gold standard in healthcare. Are fertility supplements evidence-based? Overwhelmingly, no.
Fertility supplements, like all nutritional supplements, are not regulated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other regulating body. That means that no one is keeping track of whats in these supplements, let alone checking that they actually do what they claim to do. Unlike over-the-counter or prescription medications, fertility supplements are not required to prove their effectiveness via clinical trials .
In one review of 39 womens fertility supplements available on the market, researchers found that not a single manufacturer provided any reasonable scientific substantiation that its products help women become pregnant. To quote those researchers:
So, whats a savvy consumer and hopeful parent to do? Remember that, when it comes to fertility supplements, you and/or your doctor will need to do your own research into the evidence to support the use of particular ingredients. This guide is a great place to start.
What Are The Most Important Nutrients In Prenatals Especially For The First Month Of Pregnancy
While its important to have a well-rounded balance of vitamins and nutrients during pregnancy, some are truly MVPs because they actually help your baby form vital organs and body systems, many of which begin developing in the earliest weeks of pregnancy.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists , these are the most important nutrients you need:
Does It Matter When You Start To Take Prenatal Vitamins
ACOGs recommendation is to start a prenatal at least one month preconception. This is because nutritional needs start changing in very early pregnancy, soon after conception meaning its important to make sure youre giving yourself enough time for nutrients to build up to sufficient levels before you can confirm whether youre pregnant.
Here’s an example: We know that the neural tube closes within the first few weeks of pregnancy . Because a good chunk of neural tube development happens before someone can even know whether or not theyre pregnant, its crucial that people who are trying to conceive have sufficient amounts of the nutrients that keep this process running smoothly before they can confirm theyre pregnant.*
Highlighting the importance of folate for fetal development, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention actually recommend that all people with ovaries of childbearing age, regardless of whether theyre currently trying to conceive or pregnant, make sure theyre consuming adequate amounts of folate, either through balanced eating or supplementation .* Their logic here is that because almost half of pregnancies in the US are unplanned, making sure that people who could potentially get pregnant are getting sufficient amounts of folate at all times.
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Female Fertility Supplements: An Evidence
If youre trying to conceive, you may have been recommendedby a friend, family member, or even an ad onlinea specific supplement or ingredient to boost your fertility. The market for fertility supplements is huge, with tablets, chews, and even teas available that claim to support natural fertility or improve outcomes from fertility treatments like IVF.
But do these fertility supplements really work, and are they worth the money? Here, well review the most commonly sold fertility supplements for women to understand if they impact fertility and pregnancy rates, according to research.
What Is The Difference Between Multivitamins And Prenatal Vitamins
Most people are aware that nutrient supplementation is important, but not everyone knows the difference between multivitamins and prenatal vitamins. Both contain important vitamins and minerals, but they are formulated quite differently. Multivitamins are formulated to contain the proper amount of vitamins and minerals for adults and may be different for men and women. However, the nutritional needs of pregnant women are substantially different than those of other adults. Prenatal vitamins are designed to meet the nutritional needs of pregnant women and can also be used postpartum to support lactation. Pregnant women need much higher amounts of folate, iron, and calcium compared to other adults, and standard multivitamins do not provide these vitamins and minerals in the amount required for fetal development. While prenatal vitamins supply certain vitamins, minerals, and nutrients in higher quantities than standard multivitamins, they are still not a substitute for eating a healthy diet.
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What Else Can I Do To Increase My Chances Of Conceiving
If you’re thinking of starting a family, a good first step is getting a sperm analysis. That way, you know the state of your sperm health, and can get insight into which parameters may need improvement. For example, you may have high sperm concentration but low motility. In that case, you should focus on lifestyle changes and supplements that are shown to specifically improve motility.
To increase your chances of conceiving, you might also consider other healthy lifestyle changes, such as improving your diet and exercise, reducing alcohol consumption, and quitting cigarettes or tobacco. For research-backed, actionable tips, read our sperm improvement guide.
Boost Your Dairy And Iron Intake
Besides eating right and taking prenatal vitamins, try to fit in one serving of full-fat dairy a day as part of your plan to get more calcium. Research shows that one serving of whole milk or cheese can lower your chances of ovulatory infertility .
Also aim for two servings a day of iron-rich foods like leafy greens, beans and lean meats since anemic women can have irregular cycles.
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Stop Drug And Alcohol Use
Illegal drugs like cocaine and meth have chemicals that are harmful during your planning period, Ross says. The same is true for marijuana, even though its legal in some states.
Men who smoke weed, for instance, have a lower amount of sperm for weeks after they stop. Women who smoke have a harder time getting pregnant than nonsmokers.
Heavy alcohol use also affects your fertility. Its not clear whether the occasional beer or glass of wine affects your chances of getting pregnant. But experts say your safest bet is to give up booze completely when youre trying to conceive. Theres no safe amount of alcohol for a growing baby, and you may not know that youre pregnant for a few weeks or months.
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Should You Take A Multivitamin Instead
Since so many micronutrients may influence fertility, you may find it more convenient to take one high quality multivitamin, rather than purchase a boatload of individual supplements.
I highly recommend a good, quality prenatal vitamin, says Low Dog. For women, she recommends looking for a product that contains:
- 400 mcg folate at minimum
- 300 mg choline at minimum
- 150 mcg iodine
- 18 mg iron
- 600 IU vitamin D, at least
For men, Low Dog recommends looking for a multivitamin with adequate antioxidants that provides roughly 200 percent of the daily value for:
- vitamin C
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Do Vitamins Have Other Benefits
Taking a prenatal vitamin not only helps you prepare for conception and pregnancy, it also helps you receive more than the minimum amount of vitamins and minerals necessary to prevent deficiency diseases.
Many of us do not get the all the required vitamins and minerals we need from our diet. Even when we eat a healthy balanced diet it is hard to get everything we need to prevent disease, let alone achieve optimal health.
Whilst taking a supplement is not a replacement for eating a healthy balanced diet, supplements can provide you with key nutrients that are hard to get from food.
Mark Hyman, MD a practicing physician and a pioneer in functional medicine said 92% of the population in the U.S. are deficient in one or more vitamins, when asked if we need vitamins or not, he said…
Mark goes on to say “In today’s world, everyone needs a basic multivitamin and mineral supplement. The research is overwhelming on this point“.
Morning sickness relief – According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, taking a supplement with vitamin B6 can also help combat morning sickness symptoms.21
Should Men Take Prenatal Vitamins
It’s well known that women are advised to take prenatal vitamins during pregnancy to support fetal health and development. But what about men? Can male partners support a healthy pregnancy by taking supplements? Do male prenatal vitamins even exist? Here, we cover everything you need to know about prenatal vitamins for men.
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Supplements All Women Trying To Get Pregnant Should Take
A prenatal vitamin should be taken before you become pregnant, not just when you find out that you are having a baby. Along with prenatal vitamins, there are additional supplements that may improve your fertility health and help with conception. But it is best to start taking supplements a few months or more before conception, since it may take a few months to get their full benefits. There are so many supplements available. But to keep things simple, here are six that have the best chance of giving your fertility a boost and increase your chance of having a baby.
Co Enzyme Q 10:
Is the source of fuel for mitochondria and is needed for the basic functioning of cells. Our recommendation: If you are up to 37 years old take 200-400 mg and if you are over 37 years old take 400-600 mg.
Studies have shown that despite taking a prenatal vitamin, women were still low in Vitamin D. There is typically not enough Vitamin D added to a prenatal pill so it is important to check. Low Vitamin D levels in early life is linked to schizophrenia, diabetes and skeletal disease. Appropriate levels of Vitamin D intake can prevent or reduce depression, dementia, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders. Our recommendation: Take 2,000-3,000 IU daily.
Preliminary studies have shown that this supplement may help prevent miscarriage. Selenium is an antioxidant and protects cells from damage. Our recommendation: Take 200 mg daily.
How Are Prenatal Vitamins Different From Traditional Multivitamins
Lots of different prenatal vitamin types are available on the market. While theres not a specific formulation for all prenatal vitamins, youll likely find that prenatal vitamins contain at least these key nutrients:
Calcium. According to the Mayo Clinic, pregnant and adult women need 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily. Prenatal vitamins typically have between 200 and 300 mg of calcium. This contributes to a womans calcium requirements but doesnt account for all of her daily calcium needs. Calcium is important for all women because it keeps their bones strong.
Folic acid. Taking in enough folic acid is linked with reducing neural tube defects like spina bifida. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that pregnant women take in 600 micrograms of folic acid every day from all sources. Since it may be difficult to get this much folic acid from foods alone, a supplement is recommended.
Foods that have folic acid include beans, leafy green vegetables, asparagus, and broccoli. Many fortified foods including cereal, bread, and pasta have folate too.
Iron. This mineral is necessary to create new red blood cells in the body. Because a woman increases her blood volume during pregnancy, iron is a must-have. According to the Mayo Clinic, pregnant women need 27 mg of iron a day. This is 8 mg more than women who arent pregnant.
Prenatal vitamins often contain other vitamins and minerals. These could include:
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Can Diabetics Take Prenatal Vitamins
Yes, you can. But if you have diabetes, itâs important to take prenatal vitamins that are specifically designed for diabetics. These vitamins will help reduce the risk of birth defects and complications during pregnancy.
There are a few different types of prenatal vitamins for diabetics on the market:
- Multivitamins with minerals
- Folic acid supplements
- Iron supplements
Each type of prenatal vitamin for diabetics has different benefits. Itâs important to discuss your options with your doctor and find the prenatal vitamin that is best for you and your baby.
Consult Your Doctor First
It is possible to have too much of a good thing and taking too much of any vitamin or mineral can be bad for you and you should always consult your health provider and read the label before taking supplements. If you experience any unusual symptoms when taking supplements, stop taking them and consult your pharmacist.
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Male Fertility Antioxidant Supplements
For men hoping to increase fertility, the goal is to make sure sperm are healthy. Antioxidant supplements can help. Researchers studied 101 infertile men who had abnormal semen.13 The men used an antioxidant supplement from Fairhaven Health called FH PRO. It contains L-carnitine, coenzyme Q10 , vitamin E, lycopene, N-acetyl L-cysteine, vitamins A, D3, C, and K, B-complex vitamins, iodine, selenium, zinc, copper, manganese, chromium, molybdenum, grape seed extract, benfotiamine, and L-arginine. After three months of taking FH PRO three times every day, the men experienced a 33% increase in sperm count.
Sperm motilitytheir ability to move and swim toward the female eggincreased by 122%. The sperm also had a healthier shape after the men supplemented with the antioxidant formula. When sperm are attacked by free radicals, their DNA breaks apart. The antioxidant fertility supplement caused the DNA fragmentation rate to take a 20% nosedive.Learn more about the FH PRO for Men sperm analysis studies.
Factors Contributing To Oxidative Stress
Here are just some of the things that can cause your free radical levels to skyrocket:2-4
- Toxins such as bisphenol-A , parabens, phthalates, herbicides and pesticides
- Increased temperature in a mans scrotum
- Imbalanced insulin levels due to sugar intake, diabetes or polycystic ovary syndrome
- Using a cell phone or other technology or placing it near reproductive organs
When you come in contact with any one or all of these modern-day exposures listed above, it increases your risk of infertility.
Oxidative stress is to blame for many fertility problems as well as factors that lead to miscarriage. Recurrent pregnancy loss, spontaneous abortion, preeclampsia , and fetal death are all linked to oxidative stress.5 Intrauterine growth restriction , a condition where the fetus is smaller than expected for the number of weeks of pregnancy, is also linked to too many ROS.5 Oxidative stress can play a role in embryonic resorption, where the fetus is reabsorbed back into the body, leading to miscarriage.5
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Can You Take Prenatal Vitamins If Youre Not Pregnant
One of the top questions on a patients mind is: Can you take prenatal vitamins if youre not pregnant?
If youre planning to get pregnant you can start taking folic acid supplements. Half of the United States pregnancies are unplanned, so prenatals can protect your pregnancy from complications, as some defects can appear in the early stages of the pregnancy.
However, if you dont want to get pregnant, its best to follow a healthy diet and get the nutrients you need from food. Prenatals can cause adverse effects if you take more than you need to.
Picking The Best One: Folic Acid Or Methylfolate
Needless to say, a prenatal multivitamin is an awesome way of lowering the risk of miscarriage and making sure that when you do become pregnant, your developing little peanut remains healthy.
But there are many different kinds. Which one is best? What ingredients should a prenatal contain?
Prenatal vitamins contain essential minerals such as iron and magnesium, and antioxidants such as vitamin B12, vitamin C and D and riboflavin. All of these are really important to help your body and reproductive system stay in balance and protect the growing egg and embryo.
But perhaps the most important ingredient in a prenatal multivitamin is folate. Most prenatals contain the synthetic form of folate called folic acid. Some others contain methylfolate , which is a more natural form of folic acid.
But does natural equal better? Most research has been conducted on the synthetic form and we know just how safe it is and how it can protect your future baby from a whole bunch of problems in development.
The difference between the two is that folic acid requires an extra step by an enzyme in your body to convert it to methylfolate, whereas methylfolate is, well, methylfolate already! If you have a gene mutation called MTHFR then your body isnt as good at doing this folic acid to methylfolate conversion by itself. Hispanic populations are most likely to have this gene variant at about 25% of women.12
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What Is A False Positive Pregnancy Test
Theres little more nerve-wracking than waiting for a read-out from a home pregnancy test. Its a life-changing experience, and many home pregnancy tests claim that theyre up to 99% accurate.
Despite this, though, there is no denying that the convenience of at-home pregnancy urine tests does come at a cost. Theyre not as accurate as blood tests for pregnancy or a lab-analyzed urine samplethere is no lab involved, as the assay is chemically-driven and responds purely to the hCG levels your urine specimen exhibits.
What are some of the most common causes of a false-positive pregnancy test? Your false-positive results may be due to any of the following factors:
Theres no way to distinguish a false-positive result from a truly positive pregnancy test in the moments after taking it. It may cause some women to panic. Before getting too worried, however, we recommend taking a step back.
Well dive into the finer details behind some of these worrisome false alarms below. First, though, we should clarify what an essay is and how they work in regard to at-home pregnancy tests.