When it comes to starting a family, it can seem like everyone has input or advice on the best way to conceive. You may have even seen ads for different kinds of fertility pills and supplements that offer to help speed up the trying-to-conceive process.
But how well do different kinds of fertility pills and supplements work? There’s no hard and fast answer, simply because of several variables — your personal fertility situation, the type of supplement or pill, and how long you have used the medication.
Understanding the different kinds of fertility pills
There is a wide variety of fertility medications, pills, and supplements available on the market — and considering purchasing one to aid in trying to conceive can be overwhelming. Which ones should you consider, and what should you avoid? Understanding the kinds of available fertility pills can help.
Fertility and pregnancy vitamins: If you’ve talked to your doctor about getting pregnant, you’ve likely been told to begin taking a prenatal vitamin. These daily vitamins are packed with folic acid, which helps to prevent neural tube defects (conditions such as anencephaly and spina bifida) and other health conditions in babies. Prenatal vitamins can also help boost your iron stores, which are necessary for a healthy pregnancy and to avoid pre-term birth or anemia.
You should know that taking a prenatal vitamin is important even if you’re not pregnant, because it helps prepare your body for a possible pregnancy, but taking this daily supplement won’t necessarily increase your chances of conceiving.
A variety of prenatal and trying-to-conceive supplements are also available. They often include a variety of vitamins and minerals — such as vitamin B6, evening primrose oil, vitamin C, zinc, and fish oils. Many supplements may contain antioxidants, “age-old” herbal remedies, or some forms of hormones that claim to help with fertility issues. While these are available for sale in many drug stores and grocery stores, it’s important to evaluate each supplement and its ingredients.
This is particularly important if you use any other medications that could possibly have a negative interaction with a supplement ingredient. While some people claim that conception supplements work for them, and helped speed up a pregnancy, you should know that many over-the-counter supplements are not evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which means that their claims haven’t been tested or verified.
Over-the-counter fertility pills and aids: In recent years, more over-the-counter fertility pills have made their way to store shelves and online shops. These pills are technically considered supplements, and like many pregnancy vitamins, have not been tested by the FDA for accuracy or health-related issues. Many of these fertility pills aim to thin cervical mucus in an effort to help sperm reach an egg, or claim to help boost sperm quality or quantity.
Much like vitamins that are marketed to help with fertility, over-the-counter fertility pills may possibly work for you, but there’s no guarantee. Some OBGYNs and fertility specialists believe that the high price of these products isn’t worth spending, because these supplements (which can often range from $20 to $40 or more) may not be targeting your specific fertility problem. If you choose to try an over-the-counter fertility pill, keep in mind that you should compare the ingredients list to any medications you are currently taking, and that these medications should not be used while taking other fertility drugs (such as a pill or injection prescribed by a doctor).
Doing so can cause interactions that negatively impact your health, or the efficacy of the medications you are using.
Doctor-prescribed fertility pills: If you’ve tried over-the-counter fertility pills and supplements, and have not had success in trying to conceive, a fertility specialist may recommend a commonly prescribed medication: clomiphene citrate. Also known by the brand name Clomid or Serophene, this medication is often the first medication prescribed for fertility issues, and is FDA approved.
It works by blocking estrogen receptors in the body, which helps with the production of hormones that helps with egg development in the ovaries. Clomid and Serophene have been heavily monitored and researched, and studies show that these fertility pills were effective in helping ovulation. While using Clomid or Serophene, 73% of women were helped to ovulate, while 36% became pregnant. Considering that the average woman with no identified fertility issues has a 25 percent chance of becoming pregnant during her fertility cycle, Clomid and Serophene can boost the chances of conceiving.
Clomid is usually prescribed for five days at the beginning of your fertility cycle, starting with a low dose on the first round to see how your body reacts. From there, a doctor can determine if you need a higher prescription. In most cases, Clomid and Serophene are only used for up to six fertility cycles.
Where to get fertility pills
If you’re thinking about trying a fertility vitamin, supplement, or over-the-counter pill, you’ll be able to easily find a wide variety in drug stores, grocery stores, or online. It’s smart to research the product you consider buying, and it doesn’t hurt to speak with your doctor about the selected product and it’s health claims. If you’ve tried these supplements and aids and feel that they haven’t worked for you, it’s time to schedule an appointment with your health provider. From there, you can work as a team to identify potential fertility issues, and consider prescribed fertility medications that may work for you.