How Health Supplements Boost Fertility
Studies show that about 10-15% of couples have difficulty conceiving a baby, in spite of having frequent sex for at least one year. Infertility may be due to one or more factors, and it may be something that affects the woman, the man or both. While the majority (90%) of couples is able to naturally conceive a baby within a year by having unprotected sex, others do eventually become successful after this period, with or without any treatment.
Although infertility can affect men and women who do not show any symptoms, it usually manifests in some of these:
- Women – may have irregular menstrual periods, a history of previous miscarriages, a history of pelvic infections or endometriosis
- Men – may show changes in sexual function, low libido, problems with ejaculation, other hormonal problems
When to Consult a Doctor
Infertility may be related to a hormonal imbalance in one or both partners, poor physical and mental health, or a physical or functional abnormality in the reproductive organs. If you are having difficulty conceiving a baby for more than a year now, consult your doctor for proper evaluation and treatment. It may be necessary to seek treatment, especially if:
- You are older than 35 years old
- You have irregular menstrual cycles
- You have a history of repeated miscarriages
- You have a history of pelvic infections or other problems in the reproductive tract
- You have received cancer treatments
- You have a low sperm count
- You have a swelling in the scrotum
Health Supplements to Boost Fertility
In many cases, couples fail to conceive a baby even if doctors seem to find nothing wrong with their bodies. Common tips shared by health and fertility experts include:
Eat a healthy, balanced diet. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine attributes the problem of infertility partly to the high consumption of a Western-style diet, which is high in fat, sugar and calories. These include highly processed foods, sugar-sweetened beverages, fast foods and other unhealthy foods that promote overweight and obesity. To boost your chances of success in having a baby, experts recommend eating foods like:
- Nuts, which are high in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. These can improve the quality of sperms in terms of their motility, vitality, and morphology.
- Green and yellow vegetables, which are high in beta-carotene and luteine. These nutrients also help improve sperm quality.
- Lentils, which are rich in iron and zinc, can improve women’s ovulation.
- Leafy greens like spinach and kale, which are rich in B vitamins, including folic acid, are also known to boost sperms.
Lose excess pounds. Overweight and obese people are more likely to experience infertility problems. However, people who are underweight may also have problems conceiving, so experts advise maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI, a measure of body fat) to increase chances of getting pregnant.
Improve your lifestyle. Certain lifestyle factors can affect your ability to conceive a baby. Smoking cigarettes, consuming too much caffeine or alcohol, and having a stressful lifestyle can reduce fertility. A sedentary lifestyle contributes to weight gain. To increase fertility, doctors advise that patients quit smoking, avoid too much alcohol and caffeine, get enough sleep and rest, and do regular exercises.
Avoid exposure to harmful chemicals. Studies suggest that certain chemicals in the environment, including pesticides, household cleaning products, solvents, and other substances related to certain occupations can adversely affect fertility.
Protect your sperms. Although still inconclusive, some studies suggest that exposing the testicles to high temperatures and radiation may reduce the number and quality of sperms. Some experts advise men to stay away from frequent use of hot tubs, habitually using their laptops directly on their laps, and placing cellphones in the pocket of their pants.
Take health supplements to boost fertility. There is not enough evidence to support claims that vitamins, minerals, or herbal products do increase fertility, but some studies suggest that these health supplements can help increase libido, promote hormone balance, and exert anti-aging and antioxidant effects. These include:
- Vitamins and minerals. Vitamins C and E are known antioxidants that play a role in repairing cellular damage caused by free radicals associated with normal metabolism, aging, and environmental toxins. Vitamin E is considered to be an important antioxidant that improves overall wellbeing and reproductive health. In a clinical trial, couples with fertility problems who took vitamin E showed a significant improvement in fertility rates. Other studies indicate that folic acid supplementation improves sperm counts and helps prevent birth defects related to the baby’s brain and spinal cord and brain . B vitamins participate in many biological processes and are critical to hormone metabolism, sperm production, and sperm motility. Vitamin B6 is recommended to increase the luteal phase of the woman’s menstrual cycle. Vitamin C and other bioflavonoids that are found in citrus fruits are believed to increase fertility by increasing hormone levels in women.
- Zinc plays a critical role for male sexual function because it is involved in every aspect of reproduction, such as hormone metabolism, sperm production, and sperm mobility. Zinc deficiency may lead to decreased testosterone levels and low sperm counts.
- L-arginine. This is an amino acid that is believed to improve circulation to the reproductive organs.
- L-carnitine. This is an amino acid that has been shown to increase sperm production and motility in men.
- Coenzyme Q10. Some studies suggest that coenzyme Q10, a natural substance also found in the body may improve sperm count or motility.
- Alpha lipoic acid, which reduces insulin resistance, a feature characteristic of infertility due to PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
- Herbal supplements that are believed to help boost fertility include chasteberry, black cohosh, green tea extract, pine bark extract, and evening primrose oil.
This information should not take the place of sound medical advice. We encourage you to talk to your health care providers (doctor, registered dietitian, pharmacist, etc.) about your interest in, questions about, or use of dietary supplements and what may be best for your overall health.
ABC News. 5 Foods That Can Help Boost Fertility.
WebMD. 8 Ways to Boost Your Fertility.
Mayo News. HEALTH Boost your fertility with vitamins.
Pregnancy Info. Fertility Supplements: A New Era in Fertility Support.
Consumer Health Plus. How to Increase & Boost Fertility in Women.
Mayo Clinic. Infertility.
Baby Center. Can herbal supplements boost my chances of getting pregnant?