5 Best Fertility Supplements (2021 Reviews) – Getting Pregnant with PCOS | PCOS | Prenatal Supplements
Are you trying to conceive, but it’s taking longer than you expected?
Getting pregnant sometimes seems to be even more difficult than ever with around 6.1 million U.S. women struggle to get or stay pregnant.
Going down the road of fertility treatments can be long, tiring, and expensive. So before taking that step, it might be worth trying out fertility supplements first.
We’ve rounded up the best fertility supplements currently on the market and explain exactly what you need to know about taking fertility supplements.
What Are Fertility Supplements?
Most fertility supplements contain different ingredients that, once inside your system, will help to increase your fertility . They’re not just for women, though, since men can suffer from fertility problems as well Fertility supplements generally contain only natural products, such as herbs, amino acids, vitamins, or minerals. Because of this, you can buy them over the counter or online, as opposed to medicated supplements, where you’d need a prescription.
For the most part, natural fertility supplements function as a nutritional supplement. Still, some of them have specific formulae, designed to target a particular fertility problem.
Although there are also fertility supplements for men, these are different than those for women. The supplements listed in this article mostly target the hormones and ovaries. For men, it’s more about sperm health, and boosting those little swimmers on their way to the egg.
Are fertility supplements evidence-based?
An evidence-based practice whether it be a medication, intervention or therapy, complementary treatment, or even the way a provider communicates about care is a practice that’s 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 (FDA) or any other regulating body. That means that no one is keeping track of what’s 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 (or any other research).
In one review of women’s 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:
“The products’ websites were no more helpful: four studies cited showed no increase in pregnancy rates, four others didn’t look at pregnancy rates, and one assessed its ingredient using a dose that was eight times the dose in the supplement. 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.
How Exactly Do They Help Fertility?
Any woman who has tried to conceive for a while without success probably wishes there was a magic bullet. Imagine simply having to pop a pill and getting pregnant within a month! However, that’s an unrealistic expectation when it comes to fertility supplements.
While they do contain the ideal ingredients for optimal health and will prepare your body for pregnancy, they can’t cure infertility.
Until now, there haven’t been many studies on fertility supplements. That said, those already researched, appear to give a slight advantage on the road to conceiving It’s not easy to say exactly what fertility supplements do, besides promoting fertility. It depends on which ingredients they contain, what you’re lacking, and the issue you might be facing. But most set out to regulate two main hormones, progesterone and estrogen ultimately regulating the menstrual cycle.
Many women with irregular cycles, as well as those with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) , may find supplements especially helpful. The ingredients help to balance out the hormonal disturbances preventing them from completing a successful pregnancy.
Of course, always pair supplements with a healthy diet and lifestyle. This will not only help you conceive but also optimize your health during pregnancy and lessen your chances of complications.
Are Fertility Supplements Safe?
It’s easy to assume that if something has “natural ingredients,” it’s safe to use. Add to the fact that you can easily buy them without a prescription and we automatically deem them as the safest option.
Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Every time we take in a substance, it’s bound to interact with our bodies. Even natural ingredients can have side effects, especially if you take too much.
The thing to be aware of when taking fertility supplements is that the FDA does not regulate them . If you’re a healthy person in general and don’t suffer from any diseases or allergies, you’ll likely be fine. But if you do have a medical condition, supplements could interfere with your medication.
One thing you might not be aware of is that certain herbal remedies can reduce the efficacy of birth control pills. Although, if you’re reading this article, I doubt that this is of any concern to you right now!
It is crucial to consult your doctor before you take any supplements. Some vitamins and minerals, if taken in high doses, can be harmful to the body. But as long as you stick to the instructions and advice from your doctor, you should be fine.
Prenatal vitamins vs. fertility supplements
Prenatal vitamins are taken during pregnancy to support the growth and development of a fetus in the womb. Prenatal vitamins don’t improve fertility that’s not what they’re intended to do. While prenatals are recommended for IVF patients, that’s because it’s best to start them about 3 months prior to pregnancy, and IVF patients are typically hoping to get pregnant within that time frame.
PS: The most important ingredient in prenatal vitamins is folic acid or folate, which has been shown in many, many studies to prevent fetal neural tube defects (failure of the spine or brain to form properly) which can be devastating. The reason neural tube defects are so rare in the developed world is almost exclusively due to the widespread use of prenatal vitamins along with folate enrichment in foods like bread and cereal.
Fertility supplements don’t all contain the same ingredients. Each product you’ll find will likely have a different combination of vitamins, minerals, and herbs. Below is a short list of the most common
1. N-Acetyl Cysteine
You may see this listed as N-acetyl-L-cysteine or NAC. It made its way into fertility supplements due to its antioxidant properties. When it comes to women’s cycles, NAC plays an important role in regulating them to optimize fertility. This is especially useful for women with PCOS.
2. Myoinositol (Inositol)
Our bodies produce this substance to regulate levels of insulin, but you can also find it in food. At the moment, researchers argue that this is part of the vitamin B group, although no conclusions have been made. This vitamin is useful for women with PCOS, since it also helps regulate the menstrual cycle
3. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)
This is a hormone that our bodies also produce. It’s helpful for women who are going through IVF or have lower ovarian reserves, which occurs with aging . For women with substantial reserves, however, it could be harmful, so contact your doctor before taking.
4. Chaste Tree Berry
Originating from the Mediterranean region and Central Asia, this herb was thought to minimize sexual desires among medieval monks . It’s used to decrease levels of prolactin in women. This, in turn, balances the levels of hormones, resulting in a more regular menstrual cycle.
5. Lady’s Mantle
This is another herb we can trace back to the middle ages. It was formerly used to heal wounds and diseases. Today, however, most women use it to regulate their menstrual cycle.
6. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
CoQ10 is an enzyme that has been shown to improve the quality of a woman’s eggs. It has also proven useful for men’s fertility.
7. Amino Acids
These are some of the most important substances for our bodies often described as the building blocks of life. Some we produce ourselves, but others must come from food or supplements.
L-carnitine and L-arginine are two that we don’t make naturally but both help to promote fertility in women. L-arginine, in particular, is important for women as it boosts the blood flow to the ovaries. This may help if you have PCOS.
You will see this in nearly all fertility supplements. Antioxidants are extremely important for our bodies. When it comes to fertility, one of the things they do is promote healthy eggs and sperm.
These are essential, not only for conception but also for the health of the fetus. Folate in particular, helps prevent miscarriage and birth defects.
10. Evening Primrose Oil
Evening primrose is a flowering plant native to North America; the oil extracted from this plant contains omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. There are several purported ways that evening primrose oil supports fertility.
Some proponents of evening primrose oil (EPO) as a fertility supplement say it works because the fatty acids it contains are anti-inflammatory substances. But there’s mixed evidence as to whether or not, and how much, inflammation contributes to infertility.