Two US companies, Daily Wellness and Fairhaven Health, are marketing supplements that could boost female fertility through blends of herbs, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.
The ingredient list for FertilityBlend for Women, manufactured by Daily Wellness Inc., includes the herb chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus) along with the amino acid L-arginine, green tea, B vitamins, vitamin E, folic acid, iron and zinc. Women are instructed to take three capsules daily for three to six months.
FertilityBlend was clinically validated by a study done at Stanford University School of Medicine.
Ninety three (93) women, age 24-42 years, who had tried unsuccessfully to conceive for six to 36 months, completed the Stanford study. Fifty three of the women took three capsules of FertilityBlend every day, and the rest took a placebo. After three months, 14 of the 53 women taking FertilityBlend had become pregnant, a success rate of 26%. Meanwhile four out of 40 -- only 10% -- of the women taking a placebo conceived.
The study also found that women who took FertilityBlend produced more progesterone, a hormone that encourages fertilization and prepares the uterus for pregnancy.
Nutritional supplementation could provide an alternative or complement conventional fertility therapies, it was concluded.
FertilityBlend has helped hundreds of thousands of couples safely and naturally improve their fertility health. These include couples that have no health issues but wanted to ensure a healthy pregnancy, as well as couples that have experienced difficulty in conceiving, says the company website.
FertilityBlend takes a more gradual, gentle approach, without the undesirable side effects and high costs of traditional fertility treatments, it adds.
FertilAid, manufactured by the Fairhaven Health Women, combines fertility-enhancing nutrients with a "Just Right" formula of folic acid, essential vitamins and minerals, and key antioxidants. This comprehensive formula makes it the only fertility supplement offering total preconception vitamin support - optimized for trying-to-conceive women.
FertilAid for Women was formulated on the basis of established scientific literature to help optimize fertility safely and naturally as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. With a proprietary herbal formula that includes chasteberry (vitex), red clover blossom, siberian ginseng, and gingko biloba, FertilAid helps restore hormonal balance while supporting overall reproductive wellness, it is claimed.
FertilAid has no negative side effects and has no impact on multiple births. FertilityBlend and FertilAid both offer different formulations for men.
There's no doubt that good nutrition can help boost fertility, and there's also good reason to believe that fertility supplements could help some woman conceive, says Dr. Lynn Westphal, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Stanford University School of Medicine.
Westphal was the lead author of a 2006 study of FertilityBlend. (A researcher with Daily Wellness co-authored the study, but Westphal herself has no ties to the company.)
According to Westphal, FertilityBlend might be worth a try, especially for younger women with irregular periods. "You could take it in place of a prenatal vitamin," she says.
Still, the baby-making powers of fertility supplements are far from certain, says Cathi Dennehy, an associate professor in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy at the UC San Francisco School of Medicine. The FertilityBlend study was relatively small, she says, and there just isn't a whole lot of other evidence that it really does the job. And there have been no published studies of FertilAid. Perhaps the extra vitamin C in FertilAid could theoretically be helpful for some women, feels Dennehy. At least one study has suggested that the antioxidant vitamin can improve fertility in women with luteal phase defect, a type of mistimed cycle that is a common cause of infertility, Chris Woolston writes in Los Angeles Times.
Westphal suspects chasteberry is the key ingredient in FertilityBlend. European studies suggest that the herb can help encourage a baby-friendly blend of hormones without serious side effects.
Clearly, many couples will need more serious help than can ever come from a supplement, Westphal says. "Women who are over 35 and have been trying for at least six months should not try this in place of seeing a physician," she explains.
Denny Kwok, president of Daily Wellness, agrees. Women in their late 30s or 40s should definitely see a doctor before trying his product, he says.