Does folic acid increase fertility? Learn about folic acid's effect on female and male fertility and its role in IVF.
Nutrition and proper diet have an important role in the appropriate functioning of the reproductive system. One nutrient that has gained attention in recent years for its potential role in improving fertility is folic acid. In this blog post, we will explore the connection between folic acid and fertility and whether this simple vitamin can truly boost your chances of conception.
Folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, is a water-soluble B vitamin that is crucial for various bodily functions. It is especially well-known for its role in preventing birth defects and supporting a healthy pregnancy. Folic acid plays a vital role in DNA synthesis, repair, and cell division, which are essential processes for a healthy pregnancy.
For women, taking folic acid is essential even before pregnancy is planned. There is a large volume of scientific evidence dating back to the 1980s showing that folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects in the developing fetus. Folic acid was recommended as an essential supplementation for women wanting to conceive. However, the benefits of folic acid extend to fertility as well. A few recent studies demonstrated that higher supplemental folate intake (800 mg/daily) was associated with modestly higher ovarian reserve. Based on a different study, a diet with a higher intake of folic acid was also associated with a lower risk of anovulation.
While there is an opinion that zinc supplementation, together with folic acid, holds potential advantages for men trying to father a child through improved sperm quality, including motility and DNA integrity, the largest randomized studies do not support this evidence. The randomized study of 2,340 men showed no difference in the quality of sperm between men taking supplements and placebo. The same results were received in the most recent study of 1,470 men.
In the realm of assisted reproductive technologies like in vitro fertilization (IVF), folic acid has gained attention. Some studies have explored the impact of folic acid supplementation on IVF outcomes. High-dose folic acid, often recommended for couples undergoing IVF, has been associated with improved chances of success. This study of 232 women showed that the high-dose folic acid in IVF is associated with a higher implantation rate, clinical pregnancy, and live-birth. It also demonstrated that women going through IVF with higher folate intake (>800 mg/day for supplementation) had 20% higher live-birth with IVF than those with folate intake of less than 400 mg/day. The scientific evidence is still limited, and more research on the relationships between folic supplementation and IVF is needed.
It's important to note that while folic acid can be a valuable tool in your fertility journey, it's not a standalone solution. A balanced diet, regular exercise, stress management, and a healthy lifestyle are equally crucial. If you or your partner are experiencing fertility issues, it's essential to consult with a fertility specialist to address underlying causes and explore the most suitable treatment options.
In conclusion, folic acid does have a role to play in decreasing the risk of neural tube defects and is recommended pre-pregnancy; it also has potential beneficial effects on ovarian reserve, ovulation, and results of IVF. Whether you are trying to conceive naturally or are embarking on an IVF journey, it is recommended to consult with a nutritionist and have a healthy diet. Help me find a nutritionist.