4 Supplements to Consider When You’re Trying to Conceive
When my husband and I were first trying to conceive a child, it seemed like the Internet was chock-full of suggestions for ways we could change our diet and lifestyle in order to maximize our chances of conceiving.
But along our journey learning about how Natural Family Planning could help us conceive, we also learned how fertility could be improved through the use of various dietary supplements like multi-vitamins and herbs for both men and women.
The following are a few supplements that may help improve your chances of getting pregnant—keeping in mind that you should always consult your doctor before starting a new vitamin or supplement regimen.
Yes, you should start taking a prenatal vitamin even before you get pregnant!
Still, not all prenatal vitamins are created equal, according to Marilyn M. Shannon, an expert in human physiology, biochemistry, nutrition, and fertility. In her groundbreaking book Fertility, Cycles, & Nutrition, Shannon gives specific examples of vitamins that have been specially formulated to support a woman’s cycle—something that very few vitamins can claim to do.
Shannon specifically recommends Optivite PMT (and its male counterpart, Androvite, for men whose wives are trying to conceive), Professional Prenatal Formula, and ProCycle PMS as the most complete multi-vitamins a woman can take to support healthy fertility. It’s worth considering that, while these vitamins do a great job of improving fertility—which will prepare your body to conceive and have a healthy pregnancy—you needn’t wait until you’re thinking about trying for a baby to start taking them.
(Note: These brands can be found at a few different online retailers, but are generally the most affordable when purchased from the online pharmacy American Pro-Life Enterprise.)
Flax or Fish Oils
Both flax oil and fish oils are high in Omega 3 essential fatty acids, which are—you guessed it—essential for good reproductive health for both women and men. It is believed that Omega 3 fatty acids may help improve egg quality and lower inflammation throughout the body, both of which help promote conception and a healthy pregnancy.
Omega 3 fatty acids also may help improve cervical mucus quality (which is necessary for sperm to reach the egg) and may also promote an ideal balance of reproductive hormones. For men, the Omega 3 fatty acids like those found in flax and fish oils are essential for healthy sperm and semen production.
Vitex / Chasteberry Extract
Vitex (also known as Chasteberry extract) may help improve your fertility by raising progesterone levels and lengthening cycles that are shortened due to luteal phase deficiency—a common underlying cause of infertility. In a study of 52 women with luteal phase deficiency, chasteberry extract helped elevate progesterone levels and lengthen the luteal phase of their respective cycles. In a separate study, 53 infertile women were given the nutritional supplement Fertility Blend—a chief component of which is chasteberry extract—and saw an increase in days-per-cycle with elevated basal body temperatures (note: low basal body temperature can be a hallmark of luteal phase deficiency).
Evening Primrose Oil
Evening primrose oil (EPO) is a natural source of Omega 6 fatty acids, which means it may help improve fertility in many of the same ways that flax and fish oils do, including improving the quality and increasing the quantity of your cervical mucus. But because of EPO’s effects on the uterus, you must be careful to only take this supplement before ovulation, which you can easily target if you’re charting with a Fertility Awareness-Based Method. Yet another reason to be in-tune with your cycle before trying to conceive!
You may find that some (or all) of these supplements are helpful for improving your fertility and thereby increasing your chances at conception. Be sure not to start a new supplement regimen without first consulting your doctor, as some supplements may interact with each other (or any other medications/supplements you are taking). Some, like EPO, require the direction of a doctor or other medical professional to ensure they are being taken at the correct time during your cycle.
Of course there are also simple lifestyle changes that also guard against infertility and subfertility, such ask exercising moderately and regularly, decreasing sugar, alcohol, and caffeine intake, eating a well-balanced diet with healthy fats, colorful fruits and vegetables, and whole, minimally (or unprocessed) grains, as well as getting a good night’s sleep. Managing your emotional health is important as well, and there are methods such as Organic Conceptions that work well in conjunction with NFP.
With the guidance of a doctor trained in Fertility Awareness-Based Methods for achieving pregnancy, such as NaProTechnology or FEMM, you will be in the best position possible for navigating the nutritional, emotional, and physiological aspects necessary for healthy fertility.