7 Supplements That May Impact Fertility2020-01-14T11:31:50-07:00

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7 Supplements That May Impact Fertility

In general, it’s always a good idea to try to get as much vitamins and nutrients from the food you’re eating. The reality is, that’s easier said than done. In some cases, dietary supplements can really help and your doctor may even recommend it. But before you start stocking up on vitamins you think you may need, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks. If you’re not careful, some supplements can affect your fertility in the long-run without you knowing.

“We see patients now more than ever who are self-medicating [with] supplements,” Marta Montenegro, fertility lifestyles specialist at IVFMD, tells Bustle. “More than 70 percent of Americans are using supplements that may inadvertently affect their fertility.”

Since consumers see supplements being sold over-the-counter, in health stores, or being recommended in the news, the assumption is they’re totally harmless. But as Montenegro says, “We need to understand that supplements are not gummies.” They have the same effect as taking medicine. If you continuously supply your body with supplements, they can impact your metabolism, hormones, and your entire endocrine system, which regulates fertility.

As Dr. Daniel A. Skora, reproductive endocrinologist, with Fertility Specialists of Texas, tells Bustle, supplements are generally useful for people who have restricted diets. But with that said, you still need to be very careful of what you’re taking. “A majority of the vitamins sold online or even in health food stores are unregulated,” Dr. Skora says. “In other words, there is no governmental organization that oversees dosing or effectiveness of these supplements.”

There are so many different types of supplements out there and some come with their own set of risks. But here are some supplements experts say can impact your fertility.

1. Black Cohosh

Black cohosh is a dietary supplement that’s often used to treat hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, there isn’t a ton of research on the effectiveness of this herb. In clinical trials, people who took black cohosh for as long as 12 months found no serious harmful effects. However, there have been some serious cases of liver damage associated with people who took black cohosh products. Either way, Brian Levine, M.D. the founding partner and practice director of CCRM New York, tells Bustle, it can cause incredibly strong uterine contractions and induce premature labor in women who are pregnant.

2. Vitamin A

Vitamin A is important for your eye health, your immune system, reproductive system, and the proper functioning of major organs. But if taken in large quantities, Dr. Levine says this “seemingly benign supplement can have catastrophic effects if taken before something as simple as outpatient elective surgery.” When it comes to fertility specifically, Vitamin A, especially derivatives, should be avoided when trying to get pregnant. According to the National Institutes of Health, consuming too much Vitamin A (over the recommended 770 mcg RAE) in the early stages of pregnancy has been found to cause congenital birth defects like malformations in the eyes, skull, lungs, and heart.

3. Any Dietary Supplements Used For Weight Loss

In general, any product that claims to help with weight loss is something to be skeptical of. According to the National Institutes of Health, makers of weight-loss supplements “rarely carry out studies” to find out whether their products actually work or are safe. “Most of the dietary supplements that are focussed on weight loss are enriched with stimulants, such as yohimbe,” Dr. Levine. “This can cause high blood pressure, seizures, or even heart attacks, and other potential side effects which could be disastrous on a potential pregnancy.” Think of weight loss supplements as you would any kind of stimulant. For instance, if you need a ton of caffeine to get you through the day, that habit can affect your fertility. In fact, a study published in the journal Lancet found “women who consumed more than the equivalent of one cup of coffee per day were half as likely to become pregnant, per cycle, as women who drank less.”

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