Fertility Fact Friday
a recent article from the mayoclinic.com
Question: Fertility herbs: Do they enhance fertility?
My husband and I have been trying unsuccessfully for more than a year to get pregnant. I’ve seen many ads for fertility herbs and supplements. Do they work?
from Mary M. Gallenberg, M.D.
Infertility can be a difficult problem to treat, and modern interventions — while sometimes effective — can be expensive. So it’s not surprising that some people look to herbs and supplements as a possible alternative treatment to this vexing problem. However, there’s no compelling evidence for any herbal therapy or supplements as a treatment for infertility.
Unfortunately, the research on so-called fertility herbs and supplements is scant. Among some of the fertility herbs and supplements studied are:
- L-carnitine. For male infertility, one study shows increased sperm motility in men who took a combination of acetyl-L-carnitine and L-carnitine. This resulted in a slight increase in pregnancies among study participants.
- Vitamin E. Men with low sperm counts who take vitamin E may have a higher rate of fertilization than those taking a placebo, according to one study. However, other studies found no improvement in male fertility when vitamin E is combined with vitamin C or selenium.
- Coenzyme Q10. A few studies have suggested that coenzyme Q10 may improve sperm counts or motility. But more research is needed to confirm these findings and to determine whether such findings lead to improved fertility.
- Folic acid. Some studies suggest that, similar to coenzyme Q10, folic acid may improve sperm counts or motility. Further research is needed in this area as well.
- Vitamin C. A few small studies have suggested that supplementation with vitamin C may improve fertility in women who have ovulation disorders. But much more research is needed to clarify these findings.
Although it might seem safe to take a so-called natural supplement, consider these important caveats for fertility herbs:
- They have limited Food and Drug Administration regulation.Herbal and nutritional supplements are subjected to limited regulation by the Food and Drug Administration and are only now starting to be held to rigorous purity and quality standards.
- They have a potential for drug interaction. Conventional hormone and drug treatments for infertility are complex regimens. It’s not known how herbs or supplements may interact with such treatments.
Until researchers more clearly define the risks and benefits of fertility herbs and supplements, conventional treatment for infertility appears to be the best option.
If you have used herbs or supplements to enhance your fertility please share your experience in the comment section below. Was it a positive or negative experience?