Saturday, November 6, 2010

Infertility Supplements and Dietary Aids

Infertility problems affect millions of couples in America. As the stress of infertility increases, it is common for people to search for answers on the Internet and printed sources such as magazines. Much of the information and advice available to women trying to conceive has not been written or reviewed by an infertility specialist. Even worse, much of the information is simply not true, and can lead to couples to take medications or treatments that may actually decrease their chances of getting pregnant.

It is important to understand that any medication or dietary aid that is labeled with the words “nutritional supplement” or “dietary aid” are classified as food items by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means that these supplements are not regulated by the same laws that regulate medications. Laws pertaining to medications require that new medications are equivalent or better to existing medications, and these medications can not be misrepresented in terms of their effects and side effects. Nutritional supplements do not even have to contain any medications, and there is not government oversight to protect against harmful contamination in these medications.

Most of the dietary supplements advertised to help with infertility have no evidence supporting the proposed benefits. Unfortunately, the nutritional supplement market for infertility is a multibillion dollar industry. As long as there are individuals that will believe the marketing hype surrounding infertility diet aids, these products will continue to be sold. These products are frequently packaged like medications and the advertisements frequently report that the effects are clinically proven. Other than a potential false advertising claim, there are no restrictions on how these supplements are marketed, and no requirement to test the quality or effects of these supplements.

Scientific studies on some of these compounds showed very harmful contamination and broad ranges of chemicals and hormones that can have harmful effects. Infertility specialists are frequently asked for their opinion about these supplements and often encounter resistance when patients are advised to stop using these supplements. Most of this faith placed in these nutritional supplements comes from the marketing and hype placed on these nutritional aids and vitamins. This marketing does not take into account the well-being of infertility patients, but instead seeks only to make a profit. Infertility doctors are committed to the health and well being of their patients and keep up to date with all of the evidence-based treatments designed to improve an infertile couple’s chances of having a baby.

Vitamins may play a role in overall health, however, patients do not need to take anything more than a multivitamin or prenatal vitamin. It is recommended that women trying to conceive take at least 400 micrograms of folic acid (folate). In certain circumstances, women may be advised to take additional vitamins or other nutritional supplements, but should do so only under the advice of a physician or other health care provider.

California IVF: Davis Fertility Center, Inc. does not support the use of dietary supplements or nutritional aids, and remain concerned that many of these nutritional aids may have harmful effects in addition to being very expensive. There is no evidence that nutritional supplements for male and female infertility will have any benefits on the chances of having a baby. Please inform your physician of any and all nutritional aids, dietary supplements and vitamins that you are taking.

Our infertility doctors fully support and educate our patients about healthy eating and diet changes that can help women get pregnantDiet can have a big effect on PCOS and having a baby.  A balanced diet and healthy lifestyle including exercise and avoiding smoking and smokers can help improve a woman's fertility health and chances of conceiving.

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