A couple might be struggling to get pregnant, but before going to the doctors or seeking out a fertility specialist, they might stock up on prenatal multivitamins. These contain things like folic acid and vitamin B12, along with plenty of other nutrients that can aid fertility.

Supplements, or ‘fertility super nutrients’ as they’re sometimes known, help to top up your body’s nutrients to help fertility. Women who are deficient in vitamin D, for example, are only half as likely to conceive as those who get enough.

A common fertility supplement is Omega 3 fish oils, thought to help regulate hormones, particularly if you have polycystic ovary syndrome. Other popular fertility supplements include:

Folic acid/B9 – doctors suggest taking a daily supplement containing 400 micrograms of folic acid as soon as you start trying for a baby. You should continue taking folic acid until you’re around 12 weeks pregnant. Folic acid has been proven to greatly reduce the risk of babies developing serious birth defects, including spinal cord problems such as spina bifida.

Zinc – zinc is a key factor in helping make the parts of the reproductive system function properly. A woman’s body depends on zinc for egg production, maintaining proper follicular fluid levels, and for hormone regulation. Low levels of zinc have been directly linked to miscarriage in the early stages of pregnancy.

Multivitamins

Women who are trying for a baby should start taking multivitamins if they’re not already. A large study following over 18,000 women who were trying to get pregnant found a correlation between taking multivitamin supplements and having a lower chance of ovulation problems.

Herbal remedies for fertility

Herbal remedies are widely trialled and tested by women who are trying for a baby. Although some studies have suggested that certain herbs can have a positive effect on fertility, these are only small studies and, as of yet, there’s no clear or hard evidence to show that herbal remedies will help you get pregnant.

Chaste tree berry – thought to stimulate luteinising hormone (LH) production to help balance progesterone and oestrogen levels in order to regulate the menstrual cycle.

Red clover – also thought to help balance hormones. It contains oestrogen-like compounds, which may help to promote oestrogen production.

Lady’s mantle – thought to regulate the menstrual cycle and tone the cervix.

Siberian ginseng – believed to regulate hormones and support uterine function.

Black cohosh – believed to improve hormone function due to its phytoestrogens (plant oestrogens).

Evening primrose oil – evening primrose oil helps improve the quality of cervical mucus; cervical mucus is necessary for the sperm to find their way to the egg. It’s suggested that you only take evening primrose oil up until ovulation, as it does have negative effects in early pregnancy.

Liquorice root – thought to promote healthy mucous membrane secretions. It also supports hormonal balance through endocrine support.

There’s loads of information on the internet about supplements that are believed to promote fertility, but you should always doublecheck with your GP if you’re unsure about taking fertility supplements. If you’d like to discover more pregnancy dos and don’ts, check out our Pregnancy Myth-buster quiz!

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Andrew Drakeley

Mr Andrew Drakeley is the Clinical Director at the Hewitt Fertility Centre, working principally at the Liverpool Women’s site but with managerial responsibility for Knutsford.

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