Folic acid (folate) is a B vitamin prescribed in prenatal supplements and formulas. Your fertility specialist will also recommend the vitamin during early pregnancy days to support fetal development. Folic acid is the supplement form of B-vitamin folate. You can get the nutrient from spinach, asparagus, brussels sprouts, avocado, and beef liver. Here’s an overview of how folic acid helps with fertility:
Folic Acid’s Role in Female Fertility
Folic acid is a nutrient needed for developing red blood cells and DNA material. The nutrient also has a role in cell division, and low levels are often linked to anemia. When women don’t get enough folic acid from their diet, doctors recommend supplementation.
Insufficient folate levels increase the risk of neural tube defects in pregnant women. Common neural tube defects include spina bifida, encephalocele, and anencephaly. Such congenital disabilities can cause permanent disability or early death. Folic acid won’t prevent neural tube defects but can reduce the likelihood by up to 70%.
Folate plays a role in cell division, so women need adequate levels before conception and during the first trimester. Other benefits of folic acid include reduced risk of congenital heart defects, preterm birth, and low birth weight.
Folic acid also increases progesterone levels and aids regular ovulation. Both progesterone and normal ovulation are required to get pregnant. Women who take folic acid supplements are more likely to ovulate and get pregnant.
Folic Acid’s Role in Male Fertility
Folic acid also benefits men. An embryo requires an egg and sperm to form. While women have all their eggs at birth, men create new sperm cells daily. The sperm formation process takes 60 days from germline stem cells to mature sperm. Folate aids cell division and DNA synthesis, which are processes in forming sperm cells.
Semen folate levels have been linked with sperm count and health. Low semen folate levels can cause poor sperm DNA stability. In one double-blind study, men took folic acid and zinc supplements for 26 weeks, and another group didn’t take any supplements. Those who took the supplements had a 74% increase in the amount of normal sperm in their semen. Folic acid may also improve sperm quality and lower the risk of sperm abnormalities.
Further study is required to examine the impact of folic acid on male fertility. Supplementation won’t cure infertility in men but may improve things for subfertile men. Folic acid is a healthy nutrient needed for other processes that may affect sperm production and other aspects of male fertility. Getting the ideal amount from diet and supplementation is good practice, especially when trying to conceive.
Can Folic Acid Boost Pregnancy Odds?
Women planning to conceive within the year should start taking enough folic acid through supplements or their diet. Speak to an experienced fertility specialist before you begin taking any supplement featuring folic acid. Your doctor will recommend the best supplement and dosage based on your needs. Folic acid has a role in supporting pregnancy and reducing the likelihood of congenital disabilities. Adequate levels of the nutrient also reduce the risk of irregular ovulation.
The link between folic acid and fertility is more evident in women than men. Infertility in men and women stems from various factors that need to be addressed. Folic acid isn’t a cure or remedy for infertility. If your attempts to get pregnant have failed, you should speak to a fertility doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment. Folic acid can boost your odds of getting pregnant if you have no underlying conditions like endometriosis.
Your fertility doctor will perform various tests to determine what’s causing your infertility. The specialist will then recommend treatment, which may involve pregnancy medication, lifestyle changes, or even surgeries. You should be able to conceive once the underlying condition is treated. Fertility doctors can also recommend folic acid supplements as part of the pregnancy medication or diet.
Working With a Fertility Specialist
You should see an expert when considering folic acid supplements and other medications to boost your chances of getting pregnant. Visiting a fertility specialist is the best way to diagnose and treat infertility. Stick to reputable fertility doctors and clinics that can guarantee a customized experience optimized for your needs. Your doctor will tell you whether and when to take folic acid or other pregnancy supplements and medications.