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Endometriosis and PCOS: What's the Difference?

Infertility Resources & Support


Endometriosis and PCOS: What's the Difference?

When considering fertility, it’s important to understand the various health conditions that can have an impact on fertility. Endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are two common conditions that can pose problems when trying to become pregnant. While both conditions can affect fertility and share some overlapping symptoms, they are different in their causes, symptoms, and treatments.

What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining inside the uterus, known as the endometrium, starts to grow outside of the uterus. This can lead to inflammation, pain, and the formation of scar tissue within the pelvic region. The condition affects about 10% of reproductive-aged women globally. A person with endometriosis may experience:

  • Very painful periods.
  • Pain with sexual intercourse.
  • Pain with bowel movements or urination, especially during your period.
  • Periods that are extremely heavy or abnormally long, or spotting between periods.
  • Pelvic pain that ranges from mild discomfort to severe cramps.
  • Bloating, diarrhea, constipation, or nausea.
  • Chronic fatigue.

Although the exact cause of endometriosis is unknown, we do know why the disorder causes these symptoms. During your menstrual cycle, the lining inside the uterus thickens to prepare for pregnancy. If a pregnancy does not occur, the endometrium breaks down and sheds, exiting the body through the vagina. Whenendometrial tissue grows outside of the uterus, there is no way for it to shedand exit the body. This causes the inflammation, scarring, and other symptoms seenin patients with endometriosis.

What is PCOS?

PCOS is a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age. It is characterized by long or irregular menstrual cycles and elevated levels of male hormones (androgens). The disorder affects approximately 8-13% of reproductive-aged women globally, with up to 70%remaining undiagnosed.

PCOS characterized by a combination of symptoms that can impact the menstrual cycle, fertility, hormones, appearance, and long-term health. These symptoms include:

  • Irregular menstrual cycles or the absence of menstruation.
  • Excess hair on the face, chest, abdomen, or upper thighs, known as hirsutism.
  • Severe acne or acne that doesn't respond to usual treatments.
  • Thinning hair or male-pattern baldness.
  • Weight gain or difficulty losing weight.
  • Darkening of the skin, particularly along neck creases, in the groin, and underneath breasts.
  • Skin tags, which are small excess flaps of skin in the armpits or neck area.

The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, but several factors are thought to play a role in its development.

Insulin Resistance: Insulin resistance is common in people with PCOS. This can lead to higher insulin levels, which can increase androgen production and affect ovulation.

Hormonal Imbalance: Sex hormone imbalances are common with PCOS, including elevated levels of androgens. This can disrupt menstrual cycles and cause symptoms like acne and excess hair growth.

Low-grade Inflammation: People with PCOS may have a type of low-grade inflammation that prompts the ovaries to produce androgens.This can contribute to cardiovascular and metabolic issues.

Heredity: Having family members with PCOS increases a woman's risk of having the disorder.

Excess Gonadotropin Production: An imbalance in luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels can contribute to the development of PCOS, affecting ovarian function and hormone production.

The primary difference between endometriosis and PCOS lies in the causes of the disorders. Endometriosis involves the growth of uterine-like tissue outside of the uterus, causing physical symptoms mainly related to menstruation and fertility. In contrast, PCOS is characterized by hormonal imbalances affecting the ovaries, leading to symptoms related to menstrual irregularity, changes in physical appearance, and insulin resistance.

How Does Endometriosis Impact Fertility?

woman talking with her reproductive specialist about her endometriosis and pcos symptoms

Women with endometriosis do experience infertility more often than women without endometriosis though it is important to know that women with endometriosis can and do get pregnant, even without assistance. The growth of endometrial type tissue outside of the uterus can significantly impact a woman's fertility in several ways:

Obstruction and Scarring: Endometriosis can cause scarring and adhesions on the ovaries and fallopian tubes. This can interfere with the release of eggs from the ovaries and their subsequent fertilization and journey to the uterus.

Inflammation: The presence of endometrial tissue outside the uterus creates an inflammatory response that can affect the quality of eggs, sperm, and even a fertilized embryo. This can cause complications with the fertilization process and embryo implantation.

Hormonal and Ovarian Function Disruption:Endometriosis can  affect ovarian reserve and the pool of eggs available for fertilization, either through damage to the ovaries or through surgery to remove endometriosis lesions. Many women with endometriosis have cysts inside of the ovaries we call endometriomas that can be seen on ultrasound.

Immune System Response: Some theories suggest that an abnormal immune response may be involved in endometriosis, which might affect fertility by targeting the embryo or disrupting the environment necessary for a successful pregnancy.

How Does PCOS Impact Fertility?

PCOS primarily affects fertility through hormonal imbalances and ovulatory dysfunction:

Irregular Ovulation: The hallmark of PCOS is irregular or absent ovulation, which directly impacts fertility since ovulation is necessary for conception. Women with PCOS may have fewer opportunities to conceive due to infrequent ovulation, making it difficult to become pregnant.

Hormonal Imbalances: Elevated levels of androgens(male hormones) and insulin resistance can disrupt not only the environment necessary for regular ovulation, but also the development of the uterine lining. This makes it difficult for an embryo to successfully implant in the uterus.

Ovarian Environment: The ovaries of people with PCOS often contain multiple immature follicles that do not grow to full maturity. This contributes to difficulties with poor egg quality and normal ovulation.

Metabolic Factors: Obesity and insulin resistance are common in PCOS, which can further exacerbate hormonal imbalances and inflammation. This affects an individual’s overall reproductive health and the ability to conceive.

What should I do if I think I have endometriosis or PCOS?

If you suspect you have PCOS or endometriosis, you should make an appointment with your primary care provider, gynecologist, or one of our reproductive specialists to discuss your concerns. Explain your symptoms openly and honestly, providing detailed information about your menstrual cycle, pain levels, and any other relevant symptoms.

Maintaining a journal to track your symptoms can also be helpful. Include the frequency and severity of any pain you are experiencing and record your menstrual cycles and any other relevant changes in your body. This information can help your healthcare provider make an accurate diagnosis and develop an effective treatment plan.

Once you have a diagnosis, your provider will review your treatment options with you. Treatment approaches may vary depending on the severity of your symptoms, your overall health, and your reproductive goals.

How Is Endometriosis Treated?

woman taking medication to help treat pcos

Living with endometriosis or PCOS can be challenging, but a range of treatments is available to manage symptoms and improve quality of life. The right treatment depends on several factors, including the severity of symptoms, the individual's health profile, and their family planning goals.

Endometriosis treatments aim to alleviate pain, reduce endometrial growth, and address fertility issues. Options include:

  • Pain Medication: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen can help manage menstrual pain and discomfort associated with endometriosis.
  • Hormonal Therapies: Hormone-based treatments, such as birth control pills, gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH)agonists, and progestins, can help control hormonal fluctuations and reduce the growth of endometrial type tissue.
  • Surgical Options: For more severe cases or when fertility is a concern, surgical interventions like laparoscopy can remove endometrial growths. Surgery is often not recommended for the sole purpose of treating infertility, however, as there is not a lot of data to suggest that it necessarily improves your chances of getting pregnant. Sometimes it is necessary to obtain a diagnosis or to simply treat the pain often associated with endometriosis. Whether you need to have surgery would definitely be a conversation to have with your physician.  In extreme cases, a hysterectomy might be considered, though this is generally a last resort, especially for women who wish to have children.
  • Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART): For women with endometriosis experiencing infertility (where the endometriosis has not caused a blockage of your fallopian tubes), treatments like combining fertility drugs with intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF) may offer a chance to conceive. If your tubes are blocked, whether that is from endometriosis or other reasons, IVF would be your only option for treatment.

How Is PCOS Treated?

Managing PCOS involves addressing symptoms such as irregular periods, hirsutism, and infertility and minimizing the risk of long-term complications like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Treatment strategies include:

  • Lifestyle Changes: Weight management through diet and exercise can significantly improve symptoms, reduce insulin resistance, and in some women restore regular menstrual cycles without the need for fertility treatments.
  • Medications to Induce Ovulation: For women trying to conceive, medications like clomiphene citrate (Clomid) or letrozole (Femara) can stimulate ovulation.This is the treatment you most likely would start with, assuming other factors are normal (male factor/fallopian tubes).
  • Insulin-Sensitizing Drugs: Metformin, used primarily to treat type 2 diabetes, can also help improve insulin resistance and ovulatory function in women with PCOS who don’t have diabetes.N ot every patient with PCOS will need to take metformin, but your doctor may recommend it if there is evidence that you do have insulin resistance.
  • Hormonal Contraceptives: Birth control pills can regulate menstrual cycles, reduce androgen levels, and alleviate symptoms like acne and excess hair growth. You might be placed on the birth control pill for several months to try and regulate your cycles before starting fertility treatments. If you are not trying to get pregnant, being on hormonal contraceptives long term can help treat many of the symptoms you experience with PCOS.
  • Androgen-Blocking Medications: Drugs such as spironolactone can reduce hirsutism and acne by blocking the effects of androgens. These medications are not ones that you can take while undergoing fertility treatment or during pregnancy.

It's important to work closely with your healthcare provider to create a personalized treatment plan. Factors such as symptom severity, age, overall health, and reproductive goals should guide treatment decisions.Regular follow-ups and adjustments to the treatment plan can help manage these conditions effectively over time.

Coping with PCOS or endometriosis can also be emotionally challenging. Seek support from friends, family, or support groups where you can connect with others who understand what you're going through. Additionally, consider consulting a mental health professional if you're struggling with anxiety, depression, or other emotional difficulties related to your condition.

woman coping with pcos and endometriosis

The journey to parenthood can be complex for those with conditions like endometriosis or PCOS, but with the right treatment plan and support, you can manage symptoms and pursue your goals, including starting a family. At Advanced Fertility Care, we are committed to providing personalized, compassionate care to help our patients navigate their fertility journey, offering hope and expert guidance every step of the way. 

Our dedicated team of specialists is here to offer you personalized care, from diagnosis to treatment, helping you navigate your fertility journey with compassion and expertise. Whether you're just starting to explore fertility treatment options, or you've been on this path for awhile, reach out to us today– we're here to support you every step of the way.

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Letrozole for Fertility

Infertility Resources & Support

Fertility Treatments

Letrozole for Fertility

Infertility is a common problem for many people trying to get pregnant. Fortunately, many treatment options are available to help those struggling with infertility. Medications, such as letrozole, are often recommended as part of an infertility treatment plan. 

What is Letrozole?

Letrozole is an oral medication that influences reproductive hormone balance in the body. Letrozole is an aromatase inhibitor, which reduces the hormone estrogen. It's widely used in breast cancer treatment, but it's also an effective treatment for infertility since its hormonal effects stimulate ovulation. 

How Safe is Letrozole, and Does It Work? 

couple discussing letrozole and fertility with reproductive doctor

Letrozole has been used to treat infertility for over twenty years. Success rates will always vary from person to person. Still, many studies suggest that letrozole is especially helpful for women dealing with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or ovulation problems, like anovulation. 

Luckily, letrozole is safe to take, but like any medication, it can have side effects. Some women may experience hot flashes, night sweats, headaches, tiredness, breast tenderness, dizziness, and spotting, to name a few. Letrozole's side effects are mainly related to how it affects estrogen levels.  

Medication Alternatives to Letrozole

Medications are often the first-line treatment for women going through ovulation problems. Fertility drugs like letrozole impact hormones that affect ovulation and reproduction. 

Clomiphene is one common alternative to letrozole. This oral drug works on the pituitary gland, promoting the release of hormones that encourage the growth of ovarian follicles containing eggs. Clomiphene may be more effective for women who don't have PCOS. 

Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is an injectable medication that may also help the body develop multiple ovarian follicles during an in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle. 

Letrozole and IVF

woman pregnant with ultrasound after letrozole IVF

Letrozole can be a valuable part of IVF and IUI treatments since stimulating ovulation can help increase the chances of conception. 

Letrozole is also commonly used during an intrauterine insemination (IUI) cycle. Before IUI, you'll typically take either clomiphene or letrozole to stimulate your ovaries. Next, an injection of hCG is given, inducing ovulation. Then, sperm from a donor or a partner is collected, prepared, and placed into the uterus using a thin tube. An IVF cycle has several steps, including ovarian and pituitary suppression, ovarian stimulation, egg retrieval, egg fertilization in a lab, and the transfer of embryos into the uterus. Letrozole can be used in select patients as part of an IVF cycle to improve ovulation or impact the menstrual cycle to help make IVF as effective as possible.

Embracing Letrozole as an Effective Fertility Aid

Letrozole continues to be a safe and effective choice for many people struggling with infertility when used appropriately under the guidance of a fertility specialist. If you're coping with infertility, it's important to empower yourself with the knowledge to make the best decisions for your unique situation. 

Our caring team of fertility experts at Advanced Fertility Care is always here to answer any questions. We strive to provide compassionate, individualized care to support you in building a family. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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Testicular Varicocele and Male Infertility

Infertility Resources & Support

Testicular Varicocele and Male Infertility

A testicular varicocele is a common but often unnoticed condition that can significantly impact male fertility. It is characterized by enlarged veins in the scrotum, similar to varicose veins in other parts of the body. This condition can cause discomfort, testicular shrinkage, and, most importantly, hinder the production of healthy sperm. 

This article explains what a testicular varicocele is, the symptoms, the connection to infertility, the available treatment options, and when to seek medical care.

What is Testicular Varicocele?

man having male infertility evaluation to discuss varicocele

A varicocele refers to the swelling of the veins that transport oxygen-depleted blood away from the testicle, located within the scrotum. 

Under normal conditions, two arteries (one for each testicle) provide the testicles with oxygen-rich blood. Two testicular veins return the blood to the heart once depleted of oxygen. Along with these larger testicular veins, the scrotum contains many small veins forming the pampiniform plexus network. This network acts as a conduit between the testicle and the testicular vein. A varicocele happens when blood pools in the vessels of the pampiniform plexus, causing the vessels to dilate.

Cause and Risk Factors

The exact cause of varicoceles is unknown, but they are believed to occur when the valves within the veins prevent proper blood flow. This results in pooling, which causes the veins to dilate. Varicoceles often form during puberty and are more common on the left side, probably due to the position of the left testicular vein.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Many men with varicoceles are asymptomatic and may discover the condition during a fertility evaluation or routine physical exam. Symptoms, if present, include a lump in the testicle, testicular discomfort, or swelling.

When to Seek Medical Attention

Given its potential impact on male fertility, those planning to father children, should seek medical evaluation if they notice any discomfort, lump, or swelling in the testicle.

What to Expect

Medical evaluation involves a physical examination where doctors can often feel a varicocele during a routine physical exam. However, smaller varicoceles might be detected only with an ultrasound, which can precisely determine the presence and size of a varicocele.

Testicular Varicocele and Infertility in Men

Varicoceles can lead to infertility by reducing the quality, quantity, and motility of sperm. They can also lead to testicular atrophy or shrinking. Approximately 10% to 20% of men have a varicocele, and among infertile men, this increases to 40%.

Treatment Options

man holding newborn after treating varicocele male infertility

Varicoceles treatment is unnecessary unless there is pain, testicular atrophy, or infertility. Treatment options include over-the-counter pain relievers, supportive underwear, or surgical intervention, which can often improve sperm numbers and function. Lifestyle modifications like wearing looser clothing, avoiding strenuous activities, or taking cold baths can also help.

Boost Your Fertility by Addressing Testicular Varicocele Issues Today!

Don't let testicular varicoceles hinder your journey to parenthood. Advanced Fertility Care's fertility specialists offer comprehensive fertility evaluations and personalized treatments tailored to your unique needs. Contact us today and take the first step toward parenthood.

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Why Male Infertility Evaluations Are So Important

Fertility Treatments

Infertility Resources & Support

Why Male Infertility Evaluations Are So Important

Why is Early Male Evaluation Important?


The realm of male fertility often remains shrouded in silence and stigma, despite its significance in the journey to parenthood for many couples. Recognizing and addressing male infertility through comprehensive evaluations is a crucial step in demystifying this issue, providing clear pathways to treatment, and, most importantly, offering hope and support to those affected.

Beyond the Basics: Understanding Male Infertility

Infertility is not just a woman's issue; it is a couple's challenge. Statistics reveal that in up to 50% of cases, male factors contribute to the couple's infertility. This highlights the necessity for thorough male fertility evaluations. Such assessments are pivotal not only in identifying potential fertility obstacles but also in debunking the myth that infertility is predominantly a female concern. By broadening the focus to include male reproductive health, we can foster a more inclusive and supportive environment for all individuals facing infertility.

The Process of Male Fertility Evaluation

Male fertility evaluations are important for identifying potential fertility issues, ruling out medical conditions, planning appropriate treatment, and providing emotional support for couples struggling with infertility.

Early evaluation answers some crucial questions:

  • Is the male a factor in the couple's infertility?
  • Can the male benefit from treatment? (About 20% respond to treatment)  
  • Are assisted reproductive technologies (ART) indicated?

The journey begins with a comprehensive evaluation designed to pinpoint the underlying causes of infertility. This process includes:

  • Medical History and Physical Examination: A detailed discussion of the individual's medical history, including any underlying health conditions, surgeries, or medications that could affect fertility. The physical examination can reveal varicoceles (enlarged veins in the scrotum) or other physical abnormalities that may impact sperm production or delivery.
  • Semen Analysis: The cornerstone of male fertility testing, semen analysis measures several key parameters, including sperm count, motility (movement), and morphology (shape). This test provides invaluable insights into the male partner's fertility status.
  • Advanced Testing: For some, further testing may be necessary. This can include hormonal evaluations, genetic testing to identify chromosomal anomalies or specific genetic conditions, and additional assessments like testicular biopsies or imaging studies.

Deciphering the Results: From Diagnosis to Action

The results of these evaluations can lead to a diagnosis that not only sheds light on fertility challenges but also opens the door to tailored treatment options. Whether the solution lies in lifestyle adjustments, medication, surgical interventions, or assisted reproductive technologies (ART) such as IVF or ICSI, the path to parenthood becomes clearer.

The Psychological Aspect: Addressing Emotional Well-being

An often-overlooked component of male fertility evaluations is the psychological impact. The process can stir a range of emotions, from anxiety and frustration to hope. Acknowledging and addressing these feelings is essential. Many fertility clinics and centers offer counseling services to support individuals and couples through their journey, emphasizing the importance of mental and emotional health in the context of fertility treatments.

Navigating Treatment Options: A Guided Path to Parenthood

A male fertility evaluation can help to determine the appropriate treatment for infertility. Treatment options may include lifestyle changes, medication, surgery, or assisted reproductive technologies such as intrauterine insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilization (IVF), or intractyoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Understanding the underlying cause will help determine the best path forward and will guide your individual treatment plan.

The Bigger Picture: Fertility as a Shared Journey

Male fertility evaluations play a critical role in transforming the journey to parenthood from a solitary struggle into a shared experience. By actively participating in the evaluation process, men can take control of their reproductive health, contributing to a more balanced and inclusive approach to infertility.

Male fertility evaluations are a crucial step in breaking down barriers, addressing misconceptions, and opening the door to effective treatments. By prioritizing comprehensive assessments, we can support couples in their quest for parenthood, ensuring they have access to the care, information, and emotional support they need to navigate this complex journey.

Connect with our team today to start your journey to parenthood.

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How To Be Supportive to a Loved One Struggling with Infertility

Infertility Resources & Support

How To Be Supportive to a Loved One Struggling with Infertility

Infertility is a disheartening experience for those who want to build a family. And since infertility is a common health issue affecting all genders, you likely know someone dealing with it. After all, as many as 15% of couples, and about one in five women between ages 15-49, cannot conceive after a year of trying. 

A variety of factors can cause infertility. But whatever its cause, infertility is a difficult journey. On top of that, no two fertility stories are alike. If someone you care about struggles with infertility, you may wonder how you can best support them. In this article, we'll look at ways to be there for a friend or family member struggling with infertility.

6 Ways to Support a Loved One Struggling with Infertility

Naturally, you want to be there for the people you love. Yet, infertility can be a sensitive topic, and you may be afraid to do or say the wrong things. 

Fortunately, there are some simple ways to be a safe space for your loved one as they cope with infertility.

1. Offer a Listening Ear

Friend listening to friend that has infertility to show support

One of the best things you can do is just be there for your friend. Everyone needs to feel supported, heard, and validated, especially during a difficult time. 

Living with infertility can feel like a lonely path. Your friend may not know who they can talk to, even if they're in a relationship. This is because everyone experiences infertility differently; their partner is likely dealing with their own complex emotions. 

It helps to have an outside person to lean on. You can support your loved one just by letting them know you're always available if they need to talk. Some people may not want to discuss their infertility, while others do. Therefore, it's important not to pry or assume anything. Still, just knowing you're there for them can mean a lot to your friend.  

2. Don't Give Unsolicited Advice

It may be tempting to offer your own opinions and advice — but it's unhelpful in supporting your loved one. 

For example, your gut reaction might be to say things like, "you can try again next month," "maybe you should adopt," or "why don't you try IVF?" However, statements like these can feel like you're minimizing the situation or judging your friend's choices. 

Not only that, but not everyone wants to pursue fertility treatments or adoption. So instead of offering up advice, try saying things like, "I'm sorry you're going through this," "how can I help?" or "I wish I could fix it...I'm here if you need to talk." 

This way, you can provide a supportive, non-judgmental space for the person you care about. 

3. Be Mindful 

It's essential to lead with compassion and mindfulness when supporting a friend with infertility. Understand that it may be difficult for them to attend certain events, like baby showers, while they struggle to start a family themselves. Be mindful of this and let your loved one know it's okay if they don't want to attend such events. 

On the other hand, don't feel like you can't invite them to your baby shower or kid's birthday party. It may mean a lot just to be invited, even if they don't feel up to attending. Besides, your family is a huge part of your life — it would probably feel more uncomfortable if you refrain from talking about them in front of your friend. 

What matters the most is your consideration of your friend's feelings. For instance, if you're about to announce your pregnancy, you might tell your friend in private first. This way, they'll have time to quietly process any emotions. 

4. Educate Yourself on Infertility

Infertility looks different for everyone, and well-meaning friends and family often have many questions. It can be exhausting for your friend to answer these similar questions repeatedly when they're struggling with infertility. 

Educating yourself about infertility and fertility treatments is a great way to be supportive. Instead of asking for details from your friend, you can find tons of valuable information online. 

This way, you're prepared to have a meaningful heart-to-heart about any treatments your friend is undergoing. Then, they can talk freely with you on level ground rather than having to explain their medical choices. 

5. Don't Minimize What They're Going Through

friend showing support to family member that has infertility

Infertility can be profoundly heartbreaking on multiple levels. It's also a significant health issue, even if it's not life-threatening. Avoid comparing infertility to other medical conditions or minimizing your friend's experience. 

Statements like "at least you don't have cancer" or "at least you can sleep in" don't help your friend feel supported. Instead, let them know you understand how difficult it is to struggle with infertility.

6. Find Concrete Ways to Help Out

There are many ways to be supportive besides talking it out. For example, you could help your friend with things like watching their other children while they attend fertility appointments. Or help them find a support group in the area. 

Going through fertility treatments can be physically and emotionally draining. Offering to clean your friend's house after treatment could mean a lot to them! Sending cards, flowers, or home-cooked meals are all thoughtful ways to show your support. 

The bottom line is that there are many simple ways to show heartfelt care to a loved one struggling with infertility. Most importantly, you approach them from a place of love and understanding.

At Advanced Fertility Care, we strive to help couples and individuals achieve their family-building goals through cutting-edge technology and patient-centered care at different locations. We're always here to answer any questions about infertility or fertility treatments that you may have. Contact us today to learn more.

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Prenatal Vitamins to Boost Your Fertility: What Works and What Doesn't

Infertility Resources & Support

Prenatal Vitamins to Boost Your Fertility: What Works and What Doesn't

There's no doubt that a healthy diet holds many benefits, from lowering heart disease risk to supporting mental health. Nutrition also plays a role in fertility and reproductive health. 

While you may not have control over some of the factors involved in fertility — like your age or a medical condition — several vitamins may help boost fertility when you're trying to conceive.

Six Vitamins and Nutrients to Help Boost Fertility

In recent years, much research has been done on the relationship between diet, nutrition, and fertility. Let's look at critical vitamins and nutrients that could benefit people who want to build a family.

Folate (Folic Acid)

woman buying leafy greens to boost fertility

Folic acid is commonly found in prenatal vitamins. Pregnant women should take folic acid supplements before and during pregnancy since adequate B vitamin levels can help prevent neural tube defects like spina bifida

Research suggests folic acid may also increase the likelihood of getting pregnant. Folic acid supplementation may help increase progesterone levels and support regular ovulation, which can bolster fertility. 

Folate, or vitamin B9, is the vitamin form that occurs naturally in food. When you take a folic acid supplement, your body converts it into folate so it can be used. 

Where to get it:

Folate is naturally present in dark leafy green vegetables, beans, sunflower seeds, fresh fruits, whole grains, and eggs. You'll want to take a folic acid supplement if you're pregnant or trying to conceive. Folic acid is found in most prenatal vitamins. 

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats the human body can't produce. This means we must get omega-3s from our diets. Omega-3 fatty acids have numerous benefits, such as reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and supporting brain health. 

Although it's unclear what role omega-3 fatty acids play in natural fertility, some research suggests that omega-3 supplementation may increase an infertile woman's probability of pregnancy following in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Where to find them:

Salmon, tuna, mackerel, and several other fish are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Some plant foods also provide them, such as chia seeds, hemp seeds, flaxseed, and walnuts. There are many popular over-the-counter supplements available as well.


woman taking prenatal vitamins to boost fertility

Sperm function and motility can play a role in infertility. According to an analysis of several studies, Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) significantly increases sperm concentration and motility.

Studies suggest that CoQ10 may also benefit women trying to get pregnant through IVFWomen who took CoQ10 for two months before undergoing IVF had higher egg quantity, improved ovarian response, and more high-quality embryos. However, it's unclear if CoQ10 is helpful for women who are trying to conceive naturally.

Where to find it: 

CoQ10 can be taken as a dietary supplement or obtained from foods like salmon, tuna, organ meats, and whole grains.


Selenium is another nutrient that's excellent for male infertility. One study determined that supplementation with this important trace element improves sperm count, sperm motility, and sperm quality in men. 

It's unclear whether selenium benefits fertility in women. However, another study suggested that selenium deficiency could increase a woman's risk of luteal phase deficiency. This can affect the ovulation cycle and uterine lining, putting her at risk of infertility. So it could be worth supplementing.

Where to find it: 

Besides over-the-counter supplements, selenium is present in foods like brazil nuts and seafood.

Vitamin D

This vitamin is important for healthy bones and helps the body retain calcium and phosphorous. Some research suggests vitamin D may play a role in reproductive health. For example, vitamin D may impact hormone levels in men and women and affect semen quality. 

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a chronic health condition that can cause infertility. Vitamin D supplements may help with menstrual frequency and metabolic issues in women with PCOS who are vitamin D deficient, potentially boosting fertility. However, it's unclear if vitamin D improves fertility generally, especially if a person is not deficient. Still, it doesn't hurt to up your vitamin D intake, especially if you live with PCOS.

Where to find it: 

Your body makes vitamin D with sun exposure, but it may be hard to get enough sun, especially during winter in colder climates. There aren't many foods with vitamin D, so it's a good idea to supplement or eat foods fortified with vitamin D. 


Zinc is a mineral that helps with cell function, immunity, healing, and metabolism. According to some research, zinc may also play a part in egg quality, and zinc deficiency could contribute to male infertility. 

Where to find it: 

Zinc is found in dietary supplements, as well as chicken and red meat. 

Things to Avoid When You're Trying to Conceive

woman exercising and getting nutrients to boost fertility

Ultimately, there isn't one single vitamin or supplement that will guarantee fertility. 

But some other dietary factors could affect your chances of getting pregnant. For example, one study found that women who ate more fast food and less fresh fruit took longer to get pregnant. Interestingly, another study found that replacing animal protein sources with plant protein may lower the risk of ovulation-related infertility. 

The bottom line is that a healthy, balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables promotes overall health and well-being. Regarding fertility and reproductive health, a wholesome diet is essential for people of all genders. It can also help maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, and reduce stress if you're trying to conceive. 

Support Your Fertility and Grow Your Family

Of course, infertility happens for many reasons, and your diet and nutrient intake may or may not be a factor. If you've been trying to conceive for more than a year or experiencing infertility due to a medical condition, speak to a fertility specialist.

At Advanced Fertility Care, our dedicated and experienced team will answer any fertility questions and support you on your journey to becoming a parent. We offer services at different locations. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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