Should I try health supplements before embarking on fertility treatment?

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If you and your partner have been trying for a baby for more than twelve months without success, potentially you could have some fertility problems. It can cause significant amounts of friction and stress in a relationship with partners, often blaming themselves or each other. We would always suggest that if you find yourself in this situation, you talk to your doctor and seek their advice, with often minor lifestyle changes making a significant improvement to fertility.

As the leading fertility clinic in Bangkok, we will discuss all options that are available to couples before they embark on potentially expensive fertility treatment. We will take the time to fully understand your complete medical history and circumstances before we make suggestions. In many cases, problems are relatively easy to resolve and may involve making lifestyle changes to improve your overall health.

Supplements and Diet

Having a healthy, well-balanced diet is vital for every aspect of your health, but it can play a pivotal role in fertility. We always advise patients that they should consume at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day to ensure that they get all the necessary vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and trace elements that play a role in fertility. You will also need to include a mix of proteins, healthy fats and carbohydrates while avoiding too much sugar, salt and processed food. For many people, eating a healthy diet will be enough, while others may need to take supplements.

Supplements should never be used as an alternative to eating the healthy foods you need, but for couples trying for a baby, an increase in critical vitamins such as vitamin C and D as well as increasing their intake of zinc, iron and folic acid may be beneficial. Which vitamins and minerals you are deficient in can usually be detected in a simple blood test, and the doctors will base their recommendations on the results. 

Vitamins and Minerals for Women

Ensuring that you get enough of the right vitamins and minerals both before are during pregnancy is vital. Women can lack vitamin C and D, but it is also common for more calcium and magnesium to be needed and are all regarded as essential prenatal vitamins. Multivitamins, vitamins specifically designed to increase fertility in women and those prescribed to address any individual problems, are usually fine. 

A folic acid supplement is also advised. The female is recommended to starting taking 0.4mg per day at least one month before conceiving or starting fertility treatment and throughout the pregnancy. It will help to reduce the chance of conditions such as spina bifida. However, care should be taken to ensure that the supplement does not contain vitamin A or any fish oils. 

Vitamins and Minerals for Men

Unfortunately, fertility issues are still often seen as a “woman’s problem” when in reality, many men don’t consume enough of the vitamins and nutrients required to maintain sperm quality. It is recommended that men start taking supplements three months before fertility treatment begins. The following amounts are suggested:

  • Vitamin E – 400 IU
  • Vitamin C – 100 mg
  • Selenium 26 ugm
  • Zinc 25 mg
  • Lycopene 6 mg
  • Folate 0.5mg
  • Garlic 1000 mg

Fertility Treatment and Supplements

Sadly, in some cases taking supplements alone will not resolve fertility issues and other procedures such as IVF need to be considered. However, to increase the chances of the treatment’s success, your doctor may advise that you take supplements and sometimes additional medication. In most cases, this will be the vitamins and minerals highlighted above, and your doctor will probably suggest that both partners increase their intake of the essential nutrients.

As with many instances in medicine, we would strongly advise against self-medicating and waiting to see what your doctor suggests. While vitamins and minerals are, of course, generally good for you, it is possible to overdose, and there can occasionally be interactions with other medications. However, we would suggest that you try to improve your diet and maintain a healthy lifestyle before and during the treatment.

When selecting any supplements, you should check the ingredients and only buy from reputable pharmacies or retailers. Alternative medicine can have some benefits, but again it is best to seek your doctor’s advice first. Acupuncture is frequently put forward as a possible treatment, although there is a lack of medical evidence to support its effectiveness. If you do decide to try this form of therapy, you should only use a registered practitioner. 

Other Factors

If you have been or are considering trying for a baby, there are several factors that may play a role in your success. Of course, both partners should endeavour to maintain a healthy body weight and engage in some exercise. However, it is advised that you avoid overexerting yourself as this may cause hormonal imbalances, which could reduce your chances of conceiving. Obesity has been linking to a number of fertility issues, particularly in men, including erectile dysfunction and poor sperm quality.

Alcohol consumption has long been known to have a detrimental impact on fertility and has been proven to affect hormonal balance. Women should avoid consuming alcohol when trying to conceive and during pregnancy to reduce the chances of miscarriage and any congenital disabilities. Excessive alcohol consumption in men can again cause erection problems and lower sperm quality and quantity, with long-term excess alcohol consumption also being known to cause testicular atrophy.

Smoking should always be avoided by both partners when trying for a baby as it has been proven to negatively impact fertility and the health of the foetus. Non-prescription drugs should also be avoided, and consumption of caffeine should be limited. While we appreciate that if you are experiencing fertility issues, it can cause stress, every effort should be taken to reduce stress where possible.

Speak to the Experts

Finally, before you make any decisions regarding fertility treatment, you should always speak to a medical professional to get a proper diagnosis to rule out any underlying medical problems. While supplements are proven to be beneficial, ensuring that you take the right sort and dosage is essential.

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