A healthy diet and a daily folic acid supplement are the standard recommendations for women who are trying to conceive. But some women are intrigued by the idea of other natural fertility boosters. What do doctors think? (Hint: Be prepared for a wince.)
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For Dr. Alice Domar, the thought of women trying Chinese herbs—often rumored to increase fertility but unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration—elicits an emphatic “bad, bad, bad, bad, bad.”
“Right now, there is no data showing that herbs increase fertility,” continues Domar, fertility expert and executive director of the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health, and the director of Mind/Body Services at Boston IVF. “There is no data showing that herbs are safe to take when you’re trying to get pregnant.”
There is also still only limited data on some natural supplements, like myo-inositol. According to one study, it may improve ovarian responsiveness, says Dr. Sejal Dharia Patel, a reproductive endocrinologist with the Orlando Center for Reproductive Medicine. But she cautions, “I would not make a major decision based on one study.”
However, not all alternative and complementary therapies for trying to conceive are discouraged by physicians. Many women’s health experts note that acupuncture and yoga are proven stress relievers for many people—which could certainly help you in your quest to conceive.
Although she says that there’s not much scientific evidence to prove that they help with conception, Dr. Patel doesn’t discourage her patients from things like acupuncture or aromatherapy, as they don’t seem likely to cause any harm.
Dr. Maher Abdallah, medical director of American Reproductive Centers in Irvine and Palm Springs, basically feels the same way. “Anything that helps a patient relax could also help,” he says.
But like many physicians who work with patients trying to conceive, he strongly recommends one supplement that women should take daily: a prenatal vitamin. You don’t need a lot of other vitamins if you’re taking the prenatal vitamin with folic acid, especially if you’re already eating a healthy diet, he says.