January 2020

Beware Supplements Marketed for Fertility

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer-advocacy group, recently contacted both the FDA and FTC, urging them to take action against manufacturers making misleading claims about fertility supplements. This recommendation came from the increasing number of dietary supplements claiming to improve birth rates. These claims might tempt women struggling with fertility issues. Make sure women understand that these claims aren’t supported by evidence. And some natural medicines can cause complications in pregnant women.

Some of the most common ingredients in fertility supplements include black cohoshcoenzyme Q10, vitex agnus-castus (chasteberry)DHEAfish oil, folic acidinositolashwagandha, and para-aminobenzoic acid. Most research studying these ingredients for infertility is preliminary or non-existent. DHEA shows promise for women undergoing IVF, but it’s not clear if it helps otherwise. And women who are already pregnant or breastfeeding should actually avoid a lot of these ingredients. Ashwagandha and black cohosh might cause a miscarriage. DHEA and vitex agnus-castus might be unsafe for an unborn child or nursing infant.

Be aware that these products are still readily available in pharmacies, health food stores and online. Tell women that most label claims on fertility supplements are misleading. Along with maintaining a healthy lifestyle, there are many proven conventional therapies that can actually help, but unfortunately there isn’t any strong evidence supporting natural medicines.

For more details on natural medicines studied for infertility, check out our Comparative Effectiveness Chart. Also review our CE/CME to learn more about what is and isn’t safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding. 

The information in this brief report is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions. Copyright © 2024 NatMed. Commercial distribution or reproduction prohibited. NatMed is the leading provider of high-quality, evidence-based, clinically-relevant information on natural medicine, dietary supplements, herbs, vitamins, minerals, functional foods, diets, complementary practices, CAM modalities, exercises and medical conditions. Monograph sections include interactions with herbs, drugs, foods and labs, contraindications, depletions, dosing, toxicology, adverse effects, pregnancy and lactation data, synonyms, safety and effectiveness.