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Houston Fertility Center

Can Folic Acid Supplements Boost Fertility?

By Sonja Kristiansen, MD on July 27, 2014

A family with two young boysWhen it comes to at-home remedies for infertility, it can be difficult to discern which claims are backed by science and which are superstition. This is especially true in regard to things like diets and supplements, which can not only prove ineffective, but can also harm you or your potential child if done incorrectly. That’s why our Houston Fertility Center wants to help you demystify the process with clear, accurate information.

Fortunately, one of the more common claims of helpful nutrients - namely, folic acid - is true. Folic acid, or B9, is positively correlated with both fertility levels and healthy pregnancies, in addition to a host of other long-term benefits. If you plan to undergo infertility treatment at our office, take a moment to learn how folic acid supplements can boost your chances of success.  

Folic Acid and Female Fertility

Folic acid is a natural nutrient found in many common sources of food. The human body needs only small amounts of it to function properly, but its effects are even more pronounced for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to conceive. That’s because folic acid helps regulate progesterone levels in women and cell division in general. In regard to female fertility, folic acid specifically promotes:

  • Regular ovulation
  • Increased odds of embryo implantation
  • Lower risk of birth defects
  • Lower risk of pre-term birth

Folic Acid and Male Fertility

Just as folic acid increases female fertility, so too can it help men at this stage. Although the mechanism of its effects is not as well known, studies have shown that an increase in folic acid intake results in increased sperm count and decreased sperm abnormalities - sometimes by as much as 30 percent. For fertility, folic acid is an equally beneficial nutrient for both partners.

Is Your Food Rich in Folic Acid?

In many circumstances, people are able to get a healthy amount of folic acid from diet alone. Fruits and vegetables are a common source of B9, including lettuce, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, bananas, melons, and lemons. Additionally, many breads, pastas, and baked goods have folic acid added to them by law. If you choose the right breakfast cereal, a single serving may provide you with a full dose of folic acid. Of course, the best way to determine your daily intake of any nutrient is to check the labels of your food.

The Need for Supplements

If you are indeed getting enough folic acid from your diet, then there’s no need for supplements. However, the suggested intake is higher for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to raise their fertility. 600 mcg (micrograms) is a good level to aim for, and there may be some days where you simply don’t eat the right foods. Cooked spinach, which is particular high in folic acid, contains 131 mcg in a half cup, while a half cup of cooked broccoli only contains 52 mcg. Even if you are meticulous in your eating habits, it may provide some peace of mind to complement your diet with folic acid supplements. As with any supplement though, it is important to speak with your doctor regarding how much to take, when to begin, and at which points (if any) you should stop. 

Contact Us for More Information

With the right at-home habits and professional treatment, you can greatly enhance your odds of a successful pregnancy. Contact us to learn more about your fertility treatment or to set up your first consultation at our office. 

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