Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) comes with its own set of issues and impacts your menstruation and hormone levels. You may be wondering whether folic acid for PCOS infertility actually works. Since PCOS can create painful follicles in your ovaries and cause fertility issues, you want to find solutions. It turns out there are things that folic acid can help with. And it's not the only supplement you can use in your journey toward parenthood.
What Is PCOS?
If you have a PCOS diagnosis, then you probably already know a lot about the condition. But it never hurts to review what you already know.
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An August 2017 Mayo Clinic article listed several symptoms of PCOS:
- Menstrual irregularities, including infrequent or prolonged periods or abnormally heavy periods
- Failure of the ovaries to regularly produce eggs
- Excessive male hormones, such as androgen, which may cause abnormal body or facial hair and other symptoms
- Polycystic ovaries, including the possible formation of egg-surrounding follicles that make egg production difficult
Folic Acid for PCOS Infertility
If you're planning to get pregnant, then you're probably wondering about prenatal vitamins for PCOS. And that's great because prenatal vitamins are good for anyone trying to get pregnant.
An article in the August 2018 issue of the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics suggests that low doses assist in pregnancy. In addition, a study published in the German journal Geburtshilfe und Frauenheilkunde in September 2014 found that folic acid impacts several aspects of the pregnancy process, affecting ovarian function, implementation and the development of embryos.
One of the most critical impacts of folic acid is in the development of the neural tube. A PLoS One February 2014 article noted folic acid's protection against neural tube defects. In this way, folic acid isn't only beneficial for PCOS pregnancies but for all pregnancies.
Read more: Does Taking Folic Acid Help You Get Pregnant?
What About Inositol and PCOS?
You may have heard that inositol is good for PCOS. Unfortunately, a December 2018 study in Cochrane Systematic Review found its impact on infertility to be inconclusive.
A study published in the September-October 2016 issue of the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism discussed the benefits of inositol for PCOS. Unlike folic acid for PCOS, inositol has targeted benefits for the condition.
Inositol is a second messenger to your body for insulin, which means that diet isn't your only answer to PCOS-related insulin issues. Inositol helps with metabolic issues, menstrual cycles and ovulation. Most specific to addressing PCOS, it helps with excess male hormones, such as androgen.
Read more: Side Effects of Choline and Inositol
PCOS Fertility: L-Carnitine Supplements
You may have hoped for results with more certainty on inositol and folic acid and PCOS infertility. But folic acid and inositol aren't the only supplements that can help you. More research is being done all the time, and your options continue to grow.
A January 2018 study in Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology found that L-carnitine improves fertility. Overall, it's a great supplement with several other benefits. The study noted that acetyl L-carnitine is more effective than plain L-carnitine due to the increase in antioxidants.
The other supplements only help with fertility. But L-carnitine specifically improves the fertility of those with PCOS, which is excellent news because it means that it's specifically made to help you. Best of all, it's one of the most effective supplements for PCOS weight loss due to its energy-conversion improvement.
Read more: How to Lose Weight With PCOS
Does Apple Cider Vinegar Help?
Apple cider vinegar is a popular supplement. It has all types of benefits for the gut. But can it help those dealing with POCS? A June 2017 Integrative Medicine Alert article noted that it could.
The article also suggests that apple cider vinegar has several benefits. For example, those with PCOS often struggle with blood sugar levels and weight gain, and apple cider vinegar was found to reduce cholesterol and lipid levels, which can lower your blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. And there are antioxidant properties, enzyme inhibitors and antidiabetic effects that are also great for your heart.
An article in the November 2017 issue of BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine called for additional research to determine the effectiveness of apple cider vinegar. But the benefits make it worth a try.
AHM's Role in Infertility
Several factors can cause infertility, so it's a very complicated topic. An April 2014 study from the journal Human Reproduction found an association between infertility and high AMH (anti-Müllerian hormone) levels. Women with anovulation with PCOS are particularly prone to these levels, begging the question, are these high levels causing anovulation? And if that's the case, are there things you can take to lower your AMH?
Vitamin D: Great for All
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin for everyone, although not everyone is deficient in vitamin D. This is why you should always talk to your doctor before starting a supplement.
In 2017, the PCOS Nutrition Center recommended vitamin D for women dealing with PCOS. That's because it's excellent at improving fertility for people with PCOS. It increases follicles while regulating periods. It also lowers AMH levels, which, as noted in the Human Reproduction study, is linked to infertility.
N-Acetylcysteine and PCOS
N-acetylcysteine, otherwise known as NAC, is an amino acid and antioxidant. It's a popular PCOS supplement that addresses several of your symptoms.
The PCOS Nutrition Center lists the benefits of NAC: It helps with infertility by lowering androgen levels, and it's beneficial for inflammation and high cholesterol. It may also reduce oxidative stress and fatty liver while improving your immune system.
What's wonderful about NAC is that it doesn't just address your infertility issues. It will help you to have a healthy pregnancy by improving your immune system.
Omega-3 Fats for PCOS
The PCOS Nutrition Center suggests that omega-3 fats help with fertility. They improve triglyceride levels and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. So omega-3 pairs well with vitamin D. In addition, it can enhance energy, depression, and skin and hair conditions. Once you're pregnant, vitamin D supports a healthy pregnancy. Just make sure you buy high-quality brands to ensure that you're getting all of the benefits.
It's imperative to always buy the best-quality supplements, whichever route you take.
Is Berberine Good for Fertility?
Berberine is an ancient Chinese herb used for infertility. The PCOS Nutrition Center notes berberine's impact on lowering androgen levels. The center states that berberine has the ability to stabilize insulin levels. Also, it may help reduce weight, making it one of the better herbs for weight loss for PCOS.
It's a great supporter of fertility. The reduction of androgen levels improves ovulation. Combined with the stabilization of your insulin and lowering your weight, it also ensures you're in the best health for pregnancy.
Talk to Your Doctor
While not everyone with PCOS is infertile, it can be one of the harder aspects of the diagnosis. Planning a family is hard for anyone, but knowing your chances are so low is disheartening.
The good news is that research continues to be done on the subject. A January 2018 study in the journal Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology reviewed the progress made in the last decade, noting the rapidly changing developments in the field of fertility and looking at the impacts of emerging discoveries.
Every day, new solutions are being tested. And while there may not be a definitive fix, there are options that can help you in your journey toward pregnancy. So talk to your doctor and make sure you're fully informed about your best options.
- Elsevier: Fertility and Sterility: "Trends in Clinical Reproductive Medicine Research: 10 Years of Growth"
- Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology: "Role of L-Carnitine in Female Infertility"
- Mayo Clinic: "Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (Pcos)"
- Cochrane Library: Cochrane Systematic Review - Intervention: "Inositol for Subfertile Women With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome"
- Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism: "The Inositols and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome"
- Geburtshilfe und Frauenheilkunde: "Folate Metabolism and Human Reproduction"
- Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics: "MTHFR Isoform Carriers. 5-MTHF (5-Methyl Tetrahydrofolate) vs Folic Acid: A Key to Pregnancy Outcome: A Case Series"
- PLoS One: "Prevention of Neural Tube Defects: A Cross-Sectional Study of the Uptake of Folic Acid Supplementation in Nearly Half a Million Women"
- Integrative Medicine Alert: "Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar and Other Common Vinegars: A Review"
- BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine: "Nutritional Supplements and Herbal Medicines for Women With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis"
- Human Reproduction: "The Role of AMH in Anovulation Associated With PCOS: A Hypothesis"
- PCOS Nutrition Center: "Popular Supplements for PCOS"
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