Are Fertility Supplements Safe? Let’s Look At The Research
When a couple is struggling with infertility, they may start looking into taking fertility supplements – from a basic prenatal vitamin and extra vitamin B to herbs and Chinese medicine.
At this point most women will probably ask these two popular questions:
- Do fertility supplements work?
- Are fertility supplements safe?
Together, we are going to focus primarily on the second question: safety. (Though our first tip will also help you figure out question #1: whether or not they work!)
I want to give you a list of the top 4 things to check before determining whether or not a possible fertility supplement is safe for use: the research, the quality standards, your doctor’s opinion, and whether or not the supplement is safe once you are pregnant.
After this level of research, you will absolutely know whether or not you can feel safe taking any particular fertility supplement.
Check The Research
This first step is simple: do research about the research. You want to discover everything scientists, health practitioners, and fellow women with infertility say about these supplements – down to each ingredient.
Great places to start your research are:
- PubMed: Great for running through all sorts of scientific studies and reviews
- WebMD/Mayo Clinic: Provide a good basis of information
- Natural health blogs: Well-researched and cited health blogs can be a wonderful source of information
- The supplement’s website: Any good supplement brand will link you to sources of research and proof of the safety/effectiveness on their website
- Forums/personal blogs: While these may not always be rooted 100% in fact or science, they are a great way to hear about and learn from the experiences of real couples who have had fertility struggles
Not only will all this research give you the confidence you need on whether or not these supplements are safe for your body, they will also give you the information you need to see if they work.
Check The Quality Standards
Once you have a good idea of the fertility supplements you may want to try (after you have done all your research, of course), the next step in feeling confident about their safety is to check brand standards.
Two brands could offer the “same” ingredients, but with incredibly different standards of sourcing, manufacturing, etc.
Since the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is not authorized to review fertility supplements (or any dietary supplement) before the product is marketed, you will be looking for other ways to measure quality standards.
- Has the supplement been certified? The FDA may not directly evaluate supplements, but the Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP), which is enforced by the FDA, absolutely can. Look for certifications from organizations like these.
- Where was the supplement made? Is it made in the USA or your home country? Or has it been outsourced to factories in other countries? Make sure that you are comfortable with the country of origin.
- Are there any filler materials? You may be surprised that low quality supplements can be filled with all sorts of binders, coloring, artificial ingredients – and even gluten. Check out this list of popular fillers to avoid.
- What are the capsules made of? Remember that you are not only swallowing the supplement itself, but also the capsule holding the supplement. Is it vegetarian? Is it made with fillers or binders?
- Is there any guarantee? Some sort of money-back guarantee is always a good feature to look for in a supplement brand.
Check With Your Doctor
It can be a rare occurrence to find a doctor who actually supports natural supplementation (other than general vitamins). This may discourage you from asking him or her what he thinks about all-natural fertility supplements.
Don’t let it. The goal in checking with your doctor is to make sure:
- There are not any known reactions with the supplement and a health condition you have
- There are not any known reactions with the supplement and another medication you are taking
- There are not any reasons the supplement would greatly interfere with his or her fertility treatments
If the doctor does not think it is a dangerous idea, but doesn’t show confidence that it will work – you can make your own decision knowing you could move forward safely. But if he or she shows a real concern, you can add a professional opinion into your final decision.
Of course, if you do start taking any of the fertility supplements, let your doctor know in case it would have any affect on future treatments.
Check Which Supplements Should Be Stopped At Pregnancy
While a supplement may be entirely safe for you – and even great for your fertility – not every single supplement will be great for a growing fetus.
For example, Vitex (or Chaste Tree Berry) has been shown to be effective at improving fertility “particularly for women with luteal phase defect.” But it should not be taken once you do become pregnant.
On the other hand, there are some supplements that can help boost your fertility, strengthen your body during pregnancy, and even aid your body during the breastfeeding phase as well (like vitamin D or Folate).
Always double check with your doctor or midwife that the supplement you were taking to enhance your fertility is safe (or even useful) to continue into your pregnancy.
I suggest making a note (in your phone or computer) before you get pregnant of the supplements you need to remove from your routine when you become pregnant, and which your doctor/midwife suggested to keep taking.
Are Fertility Supplements Right For You?
There are many options available to women to help them boost their fertility – and many women feel most comfortable going the natural route. If this is you, many of the well-known and well-researched supplements are worth giving a try.
The goal is to build confidence, which is exactly what you will have done after going through our list of 4 things to check so you can feel safe with a fertility supplement.
Once you have done your own research on the supplement ingredients and the brand’s quality standards, you can either say, “I’m not comfortable with this one” and move on… or you can say, “This is definitely worth a shot” and help boost your fertility.