Who’s with me? When you are ready to add a baby to your family, the first month or two of trying to get pregnant is fun. It doesn’t take long though, before the fun wears off and you start to wonder “when is this going to happen for me?”.
Most people think that trying to get pregnant will be easy. You have unprotected sex: you get knocked up. That’s what our mom warned us would happen in high school after all, right?
The reality is that getting pregnant doesn’t usually happen on accident, or even when casually “trying”. Sometimes it takes moms-to-be a long time before the stars align and they finally see those 2 pink lines on a pregnancy test.
A lot of people don’t know that there are actionable steps that you can take to increase your fertility, to help you get pregnant faster. I am here to tell you about one of the easiest and most beneficial ways you can increase your fertility:
10 supplements you need to know about to increase your fertility
Supplements are anything you “supplement” or add to what you would normally take in with your regular diet, be it vitamins, minerals, herbs etc. They work with your body to help it to do what it already knows how to do, only better!
After spending tens of thousands of dollars on infertility treatments, including 3 failed rounds of IVF, we were tapped-out financially, and I decided to take things into my own hands. I became an obsessive researcher, determined to find the key to getting pregnant when all else seemed to have failed. The punchline: we got pregnant naturally! When even the “best of the best” doctors weren’t able to help us, it turned out that my body knew what to do on it’s own all along, and I know it was thanks to the techniques, tricks and lifestyle changes that we made.
Being a nurse, I see all the time how different medications work wonders to “fix” problems in the body. The truth is, a lot of the medication that doctors and nurses give to their patients originated from elements found in nature. You can take a stand for your own fertility, without visiting an expensive infertility doctor, just by adding in some mindfully chosen supplements.
Just a little CYA (or my A, I guess): Supplements are not candy. They generate real responses in the body, so they should not be taken without doing your due diligence first. If you have any personal history of medical problems, or are taking any medications, it is always a good idea to consult with your doctor before adding any new supplements.
Now, on to the good stuff. Different supplements help increase your fertility in different ways, and at different times of your cycle. There are special fertility blend supplements available that have a mix of beneficial herbs and vitamins all rolled up in one, but they often times cost a pretty penny. Taking supplements individually, rather than in a one size fits all blend, allows you to pick and choose which ones you want to use, while saving money on the ones you want to skip.
Here is a list of some of the best supplements to increase your fertility, how they work and why you should consider using them. This list is not all inclusive, and is meant to provide a good starting point for you to do more research of your own.
10 Supplements You Need to Know About To Increase Your Fertility
Vitex, also known as chaste tree, is my favorite supplement to use and recommend, because it works so well! Studies show that Vitex works by regulating the pituitary gland, which is considered the master gland for hormone production. It aids in regulating the menstrual cycle by supporting the body’s natural progesterone and luteinizing hormone production. Vitex is especially helpful for those coming off of hormonal birth control, as it can help speed up the process of returning to a regular cycle.
If you have irregular cycles, a luteal phase defect (when the time between ovulation and the start of your next cycle is less than 12 days) or annovulatory cycles, consider adding Vitex to your supplement regimen.
Vitex can be taken in capsule, tea or tincture form. It can have a bitter taste, so capsules are usually the most preferable method. Since it can take up to 3-6 months before its full effects can be seen, it is best to take Vitex throughout your whole cycle and stick with it. Some practitioners recommend continuing Vitex throughout the first trimester of pregnancy to maintain proper progesterone levels, and therefore decrease the risk of miscarriage. I recommend discussing the continued use of Vitex, or any other supplement, during pregnancy with your OB or midwife.
2. Vitamin D3
Researchers are learning more and more about the role that Vitamin D3 plays in fertility and a healthy pregnancy. Studies show that nearly 40% of women in their reproductive years are vitamin D deficient. That’s a big deal, because Vitamin D levels that are too low can lead to insufficient uterine lining, which makes it harder for implantation of the embryo to occur. That means that even if you had a beautiful egg and a fabulous sperm meet up in perfect harmony to produce a perfectly healthy embryo, if the lining of the uterus is not optimal, the embryo will not be able to grab on and implant, thus ending in a failed cycle.
Studies also show that Vitamin D helps organize immune cells in the uterus, so that infections can be fought without harming the pregnancy. Maintaining high levels of Vitamin D throughout pregnancy is shown to reduce the risk of complications such as preeclampsia and preterm birth, and therefore lowers your chances of needing a c-section.
If time and weather permits, grab your shades and a good book to soak up some of the sun’s rays to boost your Vitamin D levels naturally. If sun bathing isn’t in the cards for you, a daily supplement is a good choice, and can play a big role in increasing your fertility.
3. L- Arginine
L-Arginine’s claim to fame is its ability to improve both male and female factor infertility. It boosts your fertility by increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs. When taken as a daily supplement by men, it has been shown to increase sperm count, motility and morphology. L-Arginine can be beneficial for women with PCOS, because it aids in decreasing inflammation related to the condition. It improves the quality and quantity of a women’s cervical mucus, allowing for the safe travels of sperm to the egg. As an added bonus,L-Arginine boosts your libido too!
L- Arginine is an amino acid that can be found in nuts, lentils, kidney beans and fresh soybeans. Other dietary sources include egg yolk, meats and dairy products. On top of eating a diet rich in these foods, you may also consider adding a daily supplement to increase your L- Arginine intake.
4. Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is one of the most useful vitamins for women suffering from infertility, especially those who have a luteal phase defect. It acts to regulate progesterone levels after ovulation, allowing plenty of time for the uterine lining to get nice and cushy, and grab onto the implanting embryo.
Vitamin B6 also helps to normalize estrogen levels. This leads to better quality and more fertile cervical mucus, which is so important for conception. If a woman’s cervical mucus is infertile, it results in a “hostile environment” where the sperm will die off before they are able to reach the egg.
Vitamin B6 can be found in fortified cereal, beef, poultry, starchy vegetables, and some non-citrus fruits. If taken as a supplement, Vitamin B6 should be used throughout your entire cycle to see benefits.
5. Coenzyme Q10 (Ubiquinol)
This takes me back to my biochemistry class in nursing school (yuck!), but follow me here. Ubiquinol, or Coenzyme Q10, is a source of fuel for mitochondria inside cells, which is then converted into energy. This energy is critical in the healthy and proper division of cells in early embryo development.
A woman’s egg, which is after all a single cell, contains more mitochodrial DNA than any other cell in the body. A decrease in mitochondrial energy production leads to a decline in egg health and quality. Poor egg quality is a leading cause of infertility, and can also lead to miscarriages or birth defects. When taken as a supplement, Coenzyme Q10 helps to improve the quality of your eggs, and has the same great benefits on sperm when taken by men.
The take home: Take more Ubiquinol, have better eggs and/ or sperm, make more babies!
Coenqyme q10 supplements come in two forms: Ubiquinol and Ubiquininone. Ubiquinol is slightly more expensive than Ubiquinone, but it is said to be absorbed by the body better, so you need to take less quantity. My husband and I both added CoQ10 in Ubiquinol form before our second IVF cycle and saw marked improvement in egg, sperm and embryo quality, so this is the form I personally recommend.
6. Royal Jelly
Hethir Rodriguez over at Natural Fertility Info does a great job explaining the wonders of Royal Jelly, so I am going to leave it to her:
“This nutrient dense substance is a secretion that comes from specific glands in nurse worker bees, and is used to not only create a queen bee for procreation, but it is also fed to honey bee larvae to provide them with optimal health and growth.
Royal Jelly is rich in amino acids (29 to be exact), 10-hydroxydecenoic acid (10-HDA), lipids, sugars, vitamins, and proteins. It contains vitamins A, B complex (including folic acid and inositol), C, D and E, and also has ample levels of iron and calcium, as well as other minerals. Royal Jelly also contains acetylcholine, which is needed to transmit nerve messages from cell to cell. 10-HDA is thought to be its major therapeutic constituent as it has been shown to have antitumor activity. Because Royal Jelly contains a wide variety of nutrients that are essential to proper health and organ function, it is very easy to see how it can help assist fertility.”
Royal Jelly has been shown to help improve egg and sperm quality, balance hormones which leads to a more regular cycle, and boost your libido. Royal Jelly supplements are available in capsules or in a semi-liquid state (think honey), and should be taken throughout your whole cycle.
If you are allergic to bees and/or honey, you should not use Royal Jelly, as it may cause an allergic reaction.
Maca is a nutrient packed powerhouse. It is a root vegetable that has been used to aid fertility for more than two thousand years. Similar to other supplements we’ve talked about, Maca has the ability to modify hormone levels, without containing any hormones itself. It does this by regulating the pituitary, adrenal, and thyroid glands.
If you haven’t noticed yet, hormones play a big role in fertility. Supplements like Maca that help to regulate hormone levels have the potential to greatly increase your fertility, if you have any type of hormonal balance to blame. By aiding the glands that release your body’s hormones, estrogen and progesterone levels are normalized downstream. This helps to regulate your cycle, increase fertile cervical mucous and optimize the uterine lining.
Maca is also beneficial when taken by men to boost fertility. Is has been shown to regulate hormone levels, such as testosterone and DHEA. This leads to an increased libido, higher sperm count, and improved sperm motility.
Maca is available as a powder, tincture or in capsule form. It should be used on a daily basis throughout your cycle to see the best results.
Selenium boosts fertility by protecting a couple of very key players: the sperm and the egg. It is a powerful antioxidant that helps to keep free radicals at bay. When selenium levels are too low, free radicals have access to damage the chromosomal makeup of sperm and eggs, which can lead to poor embryo health, infertility, miscarriages and birth defects.
Selenium is beneficial for both men and women when aiming to increase fertility. Its antioxidant properties help to ensure the best egg and sperm quality when trying to conceive. It is a mineral found in many prenatal vitamins, but can also be taken as an individual supplement.
9. Low Dose Aspirin
Low Dose Aspirin (aka Baby Aspirin) is not a widely known supplement for trying to conceive, but it should be! I had read about its benefits while TTC with my first son, but it wasn’t until our 3 rounds of IVF that I learned about the role of blood thinners, like Low Dose Aspirin, and how they help when trying to get pregnant.
Taking one 81 mg Low Dose Aspirin a day while trying to conceive helps to thin the blood slightly, which increases blood flow and circulation to the ovaries, uterus and hormone releasing glands like the pituitary gland. This increase in circulation allows for the delivery of more oxygen and nutrient rich blood cells.
Thanks to the increase in circulation, Low Dose Aspirin helps to improve ovulation, hormone regulation and thickening of the uterine lining for implantation. Be sure not to take more than one 81 mg Aspirin per day, as too much Aspirin can have a negative effect on fertility.
This is anther one I learned about while going through my IVF cycles. It is commonly known that Melatonin helps to regulate sleep patterns. What is not commonly known is that it can be used to increase your chances of getting pregnant! My doctor recommended I take a Melatonin supplement each night during my IVF cycles. Here’s why:
Research done on women undergoing IVF has shown a marked increase in egg fertilization in those who took Melatonin before their IVF cycle, when compared to the control group who did not take the Melatonin supplement. A higher level of confirmed pregnancy was also recorded in those who took Melatonin before their cycle.
It is believed that Melatonin has such positive effects on women’s fertility because of its antioxidant properties. It is suggested that taking 3 mg of melatonin each day will improve the quality of a woman’s eggs, thus leading to better fertilization, fewer chromosomal abnormalities, a decrease in miscarriages and an increase in sustained pregnancies. It is not, however, recommended to be taken for more than 3 months at a time.
When it comes to your fertility, you are your biggest advocate! Take some time to research the many ways that supplements can increase your fertility and get you pregnant faster. Look them up, dig a little deeper, and ask your doctor if they are right for you! When your’re ready, you can find these supplements on good old amazon, at Natural Fertility Shop, or at your local health food store.