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Getting pregnant is not as easy as it seems. Some women get pregnant on the first try, but for others, it may take years to announce the good news. Our lifestyle choices have made it even more challenging to conceive easily and naturally. Infertility is a common problem, and it is hard to treat. While certain medical procedures can help people have a baby, most couples prefer conceiving the traditional way. If you want to get pregnant soon, you should perhaps consider taking fertility supplements. Female fertility supplements can boost the health of a woman and increase the strength of her reproductive system. If you want to take fertility supplements, you should have the right information about them.
What Are Fertility Supplements?
Fertility supplements are specific medicinal products or substances that, when consumed, help enhance the fertility levels in men and women. These products usually contain minerals, herbs, vitamins, or other amino acids that affect the reproductive system. These are separate from medications since all the constituents of these supplements are natural and do not necessarily require a doctor’s prescription. Some are generally used as nutritional supplements while others contain specifically designed formula to target the fertility of a particular person. Fertility supplements are not just available for women but men as well. Fertility supplements for men focus on improving sperm health and motility, thereby increasing the chances of them reaching the egg for fertilization.
Is it Safe to Take Supplements to Boost Fertility?
As numerous over-the-counter herbal supplements are available for both men and women, it is normal to wonder whether these supplements are effective or not. Since these supplements are manufactured using natural products and do not require a prescription, people think that they are safe. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.
As with any external substances that interact with the body’s biological processes, these substances interact too and could result in side effects. They can trigger allergic reactions, and the substances present in them could interact differently with any ongoing medication.
Even though these supplements contain the nutrients that are essential for your health, but if you take them too much, they might affect your health negatively. Elevating the levels of certain vitamins or minerals beyond normal can be harmful to the body as well. At times, taking more than one supplement could also create a bond between them, leading to the formation of chemicals that can damage the body.
What Ingredients Are Found in Fertility Supplements?
Each fertility supplement contains a combination of different elements that serve a unique purpose. There are a bunch of ingredients that are generally found in fertility supplements, which have been described below.
1. N-Acetyl Cysteine
Also termed as NAC or N-acetyl-L-cysteine, this element is actually a variant of the usual amino acid from the L-cysteine strain. One of the key reasons why this ingredient forms a part of various fertility supplements is because it acts as an antioxidant. This plays a crucial role in keeping the internal body systems functioning to optimal levels, preventing cells from dying an early death, and creating a sensitivity towards insulin. NAC can substantially improve the ovulation cycles of many women, particularly the ones who have PCOS.
Myo-inositol is one of those substances which is found naturally in the human body as well. It is also present in various food items such as fruits, beans, corn, etc. The reason inositol is produced in the body is primarily to regulate the insulin levels and keep the body healthy. Insulin resistance is a problem with the body’s ability to respond to insulin. Insulin resistance is one of the causes of low fertility levels in women with PCOS. Intake of inositol can help such women by improving their fertility levels. It streamlines and regularizes menstrual cycle in a woman, which ultimately brings ovulation pattern to normal.
The name may sound scary, but it has been shortened to DHEA. This hormone is produced by the human body, which is secreted by the adrenal glands. There are contradictory opinions on the efficacy of DHEA for women since it poses more harm than good when a woman has substantial reserves of her ovaries. Additional DHEA supplementation, in this case, can lead to side effects like facial hair growth, disturbance in menstrual cycles, and so on. However, for women who have low ovarian reserves, DHEA supplementation is quite beneficial, especially when going for IVF.
4. Coenzyme Q10
Also termed as CoQ10, it is an enzyme which can boost fertility. But there doesn’t seem to be any specific study or research of its effects on humans. Nevertheless, tests have been conducted on animals, and supplementation of CoQ10 improved the quality of eggs of those animals. CoQ10 also improves the sperm count in men. The sperm are better-shaped and have higher motility as well.
5. Vitex Agnus-Castus
A popular herbal supplement, vitex agnus-castus is generally referred to as chasteberry in layman’s terms. Vitex is a well-known fertility supplement that improves the reproductive health of women. It is known to provide relief from the common discomforts experienced at the onset of menstruation. It streamlines the menstrual cycles, which improves ovulation, and ultimately, the chances of pregnancy.
6. Amino Acids
One of the key ingredients that is required by the human body to function and stay healthy is amino acids. Most of these acids are produced in the body itself, whereas a few others are required from external sources. Two of the necessary ones in that regard are L-carnitine and L-arginine. Both these acids are necessary for supporting a healthy reproductive system in both men and women. The presence of L-carnitine in males improves the motility of sperm and their shape. L-arginine, on the other hand, boosts the flow of blood to the ovarian region and the uterus in women. However, sometimes, too much L-arginine can hinder the successful retrieval of embryos or eggs during IVF.
Only the rarest of the rare fertility supplements will be manufactured without a trace of antioxidants in them. If amino acids are the building blocks of the human body, the antioxidants are the maintenance personnel. Most supplements include Vitamin C as a core antioxidant, while a few others generally have melatonin, green tea, or ubiquinol in them. Ubiquinol can be termed as a primitive stage of CoQ10, affects the shape of sperm in males and the eggs in females. Both of these work towards boosting fertility together.
Vitamins are essential for our body; hence, all supplements contain vitamins without fail. Numerous vitamins ranging from the B-complex group to Vitamins C and E, and minerals like folate, zinc, magnesium, etc. are not only necessary for fertility but also for the development of the foetus.
Fertility Supplements That Can Help You Get Pregnant
If you are opting for natural fertility supplements while trying to conceive, you should consider the ones that can improve the chances of conception and restore order to the reproductive systems in both males and females.
It is one of the essential amino acids that support the growth of the reproductive system. L-carnitine is a necessary supplement for males. Intake of L-carnitine and elevating its levels within the sperm cells, has shown substantial improvement in the number of sperm as well as their speed of navigation.
L-arginine, another amino acid which is usually paired with L-carnitine, is present in various food items. But it is found in significant proportions within the head of a sperm. L-arginine is a key supplement to boost the strength of the sperm as well as increase their count. However, intake of L-arginine is generally forbidden for those with STDs such as herpes or cold sores. Such diseases could be aggravated by reactivating the virus by the presence of this amino acid.
Beta-carotene is widely present in various vegetables, which later develops into the potent Vitamin A. Consuming beta-carotene is highly recommended during pregnancy, but it is used as a fertility supplement, too. The antioxidant property of beta-carotene helps in maintaining the health of the sperm as well as the egg by taking care of any free radicals in the body and preventing damage to the fledgeling DNA that is about to form. Usually, multivitamin supplements do contain beta-carotene in good amounts.
4. Vitamin C
Apart from being a natural antioxidant, the presence of Vitamin C is directly linked to the improvement of the DNA inside the sperm, protecting it throughout and improving their quality and shape. Keeping the DNA information protected within the sperm is highly important to prevent any miscarriage or formation of a foetus that has various disorders or conditions. Furthermore, vitamin C encourages the sperm to spread out rather than band together, increasing the chances of them swimming speedily towards the egg.
5. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is another antioxidant that plays a key role in increasing fertility in both men and women, and it is quite important for a couple who are undergoing IVF. The intake of Vitamin E can increase the chances of fertilisation by nearly 10%.
6. Omega-3 Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids supplements are crucial as they increase blood flow to the uterus and help ovarian follicles release eggs. Right from reducing inflammation that may cause hindrances with pregnancy down to providing the essential fatty acids to the semen, omega-3 fatty acids help improve fertility. They also boost the prostaglandin levels and sperm health.
In men, selenium is extremely important since proper selenium levels are directly linked to good sperm count. In women, selenium plays an essential role in protecting the nascent foetus from miscarriages or any other defects. The antioxidant properties of selenium keep the chromosome structure intact.
8. Folic Acid
Folic acid is highly recommended before pregnancy as well as throughout the pregnancy since it improves foetal health. Not only does it support the better formation of DNA and RNA, but it also protects those genetic codes within the baby. Complementing it with B-complex vitamins is absolutely a necessity. A combination of folic acid and zinc can also improve the quality of sperm in men.
Zinc plays a vital role in maintaining good chromosome pairs and holds together estrogen and progesterone, which benefit the pregnancy. In a sperm, the tail and the outer covering are made from zinc itself, which makes the inclusion of zinc in a man’s diet absolutely essential. This element can improve sperm motility and improve the quality of sperm. It is also important for women as the lack (or low levels) of zinc can lead to a miscarriage.
Risks of Taking Fertility Supplements
As mentioned above, fertility supplements can interact with other medications that a person might be taking. Taking fertility supplements, especially in high doses and for too long can affect your reproductive health as well as overall health negatively. Stated below are the side effects that may occur because of taking high doses of supplements –
- Blurry vision
- Nausea and vomiting
- An increased risk of heart disease (this happens when folic acid is taken in excessive amounts)
When to Be Extra Cautious With Fertility Supplements
Buying fertility supplements can be tricky, but if you are planning to take fertility supplements, you need to be cautious. Avoid buying a fertility supplement in the following cases.
- The online store or website of the company seems sketchy. It has wrong spellings and random images.
- The box mentions “research-proven” but does not specify the research and the time when and where it was conducted.
- The box of the supplements says “recommended by doctors” but doesn’t carry any official logo of the organisation.
- The supplement proudly gives the guarantee of curing infertility.
What to Ask Your Doctor
Although many fertility supplements help improve fertility, they may not work for all. They are effective but can also lead to serious side effects. Hence, consulting a doctor before taking any supplement would be a wise decision. So, speak with your doctor about the potential benefits and risks of a particular supplement, then only go ahead with it. The doctor will ask you about your medical history and any pre-existing medical conditions. She will even ask you if you are on some medication. Provide the right information, and she will guide you the best.
Opting for the best fertility supplements to get pregnant may not be as easy as it seems. Just like medication, care needs to be taken while choosing the right ones. Furthermore, taking supplements alone won’t improve your fertility levels. Following a healthy diet, leading a good lifestyle, and exercising will work in your favour too. Consult a doctor before you start with any supplements, she will guide you the best. Furthermore, keep trying – soon, you will have your little angel in your arms.