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Battling INFERTILITY

OTC vitamin supplement may enhance fertility in women

Categories: INFERTILITY | July 6th, 2010 | by Raquel | 3 comments

Over-the-counter (OTC) fertility pills for women? It seems too good to be true but this is exactly what researchers from the Tel Aviv University are saying.

The researchers found a statistically significant link between DHEA, a popular OTC vitamin supplement and improved fertility in women.

DHEA stands for 5-Dehydroepiandrosterone, “a naturally-occurring steroid found in the brain, which plays an important biological role in humans and other mammals. Produced in the adrenal glands, it is also synthesized in the brain. The pharmaceutical version of this molecule is known as Prastera, Prasterone, Fidelin and Fluasterone, and identical generics are widely available over the counter in the United States without a prescription.”

The researchers conducted a controlled trial that compared the effects of DHEA supplementation vs. no supplementation in women with fertility problems. The women who had ovulation problems underwent fertility treatments but half of the group received 75 mg dose of DHEA everyday for 40 days prior to the treatments, and continued for 5 months thereafter.

Their results indicate that those who took DHEA supplements were three times more likely to become pregnant than those who did not. In addition, the DHEA group also had higher likelihood of having a healthy pregnancy and delivery than the control group.

According to study leader Prof. Adrian Shulman of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine:

“In the DHEA group, there was a 23% live birth rate as opposed to a 4% rate in the control group. More than that, of the pregnancies in the DHEA group, all but one ended in healthy deliveries.”

It is not clear how DHEA enhances fertility. The study authors, however, hypothesize that it could have a positive effect on the quality of the eggs or the follicles. They recommend that women with fertility problems should take DHEA supplements and continue doing so even during pregnancy. However, before undertaking such supplementation, women should first consult their doctor.

In the meantime, the researchers will continue to do research and try to understand the fertility-enhancing mechanism of DHEA. If DHEA really does work, then it will save infertile women a lot of pain, not to mention money that comes with fertility treatments, including IVF.

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