Memphis fertility specialist Dr. Amelia Bailey recommends certain vitamins and supplements for IVF patients to increase their chances for conceiving.
We asked Dr. Bailey for her thoughts on IVF-friendly supplements, vitamins for fertility and how to tell if a supplement is safe.
Who should take a daily vitamin?
Dr. Bailey: Every reproductive age woman should take a multivitamin, which has enough folic acid to help benefit pregnancy. Ideally, a woman planning pregnancy should start taking a prenatal vitamin with DHA six months before conceiving. DHA is an omega 3 fatty acid shown to help with brain development; in a few studies, it also helped reduce the rate of preterm delivery.
Do women need to take extra folic acid for fertility?
Dr. Bailey: The only people who need extra folic acid are those with a history of gastric bypass, sickle cell disease or other health conditions that could cause low folic acid. If you’re on anti-seizure medication, you also need more folic acid.
If you’re in one of these categories, you’ll want to take 4 milligrams of folic acid; otherwise 800 mcg is enough, she says.
Which supplements for IVF can I take?
Dr. Bailey: We have studies that show Coenzyme Q10 is helpful in women with diminished ovarian reserve, a condition all women undergo as the ovaries age. There are also studies that show it may be beneficial for everybody. It functions as an antioxidant and helps to process harmful molecules and free radicals. In ideal cases, CoQ10 can help improve egg quality and egg quality.
Dr. Bailey: Dr. Bailey: DHEA also helps with ovarian aging, but this should not be taken by women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Talk to your fertility doctor about whether you should take DHEA.
Which supplements for IVF can I take for PCOS?
There is a newer supplement called Myo-Inositol that has been shown to help some PCOS patients with their fertility and metabolism. Dr. Bailey isn’t prescribing it yet because she believes more data is needed. It’s an ingredient—along with CoQ10—that’s seen in some fertility boosting pills. Most of the time, the pills aren’t worth the cost because they’re not independently certified and contain extra supplements not proven for fertility, she says. Supplements should be discussed with your fertility doctor prior to starting them.
Medications to discuss with your Memphis fertility doctor
Dr. Bailey: A lot of people have low vitamin D levels. Data are inconclusive on how and if that affects fertility. Your fertility doctor may check your vitamin D level; if it’s less than 30 ng/mL, you should start a vitamin D supplement.
If you are anemic, you should have your iron levels tested. If tests show that you have low iron, start an iron supplementation but only by a doctor’s recommendation.
Dr. Bailey: Unless you’re seeing a fertility specialist who has done a thorough workup and recommended aspirin, you shouldn’t take it leading up to pregnancy. Aspirin increases your risk for bleeding. There are some situations where aspirin is indicated; however, if it is not indicated, it can actually worsen the pregnancy outcome.
Find safe supplements for IVF with the NSF International Certification
Dr. Bailey: Vitamins, herbs and supplements are not regulated by the FDA. There are reputable third-party certifiers for supplements, and they should be listed on the bottle.
Look for the NSF International certification so you can trust what’s listed on the bottle. To be safe, talk to your fertility doctor about supplements for conception and which medications would be most effective for you.
If you have had trouble getting pregnant, contact our Memphis fertility center to schedule a fertility evaluation today.