If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for any amount of time, chances are good that you know the importance of taking a prenatal vitamin with folic acid during the preconception period. But when you’re struggling to conceive, additional fertility supplements – like CoQ10 and DHEA – may begin taking up space on your nightstand. With endless information out there about the benefits of various ingredients, you may be wondering “How much is too much?” or “Which supplements should I avoid taking together?”
Supplement combinations to avoid when TTC
It’s important to understand how supplements might impact your medication regimen. Here are a few supplement combinations to avoid if they’re a part of your daily routine while TTC.
Folic acid, found in most prenatal vitamins, is an important nutrient that plays a key role in fetal development. During pregnancy, folic acid helps form the neural tube, which becomes the brain and spinal cord. Adequate intake of folic acid before and during early pregnancy can help prevent serious birth defects of the brain and spine called neural tube defects.*
It’s recommended that women who are planning to become pregnant get at least 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid per day. This can be achieved through a combination of diet and supplements like FH PRO for Women by Fairhaven Health, which offers a comprehensive preconception vitamin complex with 100% or more of the Daily Value for key vitamins and minerals – including vitamins B, D, iron, zinc, iodine, and folic acid (as methylfolate). Foods that are rich in folic acid include leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, beans, and fortified grains.
There are, however, several medications that folic acid should not be mixed with. Specifically, folic acid can reduce the absorption and effectiveness of certain drugs used to treat epilepsy and prevent seizures, such as phenytoin (Dilantin) and carbamazepine (Tegretol). Folic acid can also interfere with the action of certain antidepressants, such as tricyclic antidepressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), so it’s important to consult with your physician if you have been prescribed medication for depression or anxiety.
Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, is a fat-soluble nutrient that plays a key role in the production of 95% of the energy needed by your cells, including egg and sperm cells. CoQ10 also functions as a powerful antioxidant. We ingest CoQ10 naturally in our diet through the consumption of meat, fish, and certain vegetables and fruit. Unfortunately, CoQ10 levels decrease with age, stress, and some medications (for example, the cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins), resulting in reduced cellular energy capacity.*
When it comes to your fertility, taking a CoQ10 supplement can help support egg and sperm health by supporting a healthy response to free radicals and by promoting cellular energy production.* However, CoQ10 should not be taken with blood thinners like warfarin, as it can increase the risk of bleeding.
DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is a hormone that is produced naturally by the body and can be converted into testosterone and estrogen. It has been shown to support healthy ovarian function.
However, DHEA supplements should not be taken with birth control pills or other hormonal contraceptives, as it can make them less effective. Additionally, DHEA should not be taken with fertility drugs like clomiphene (Clomid) or gonadotropins (such as FSH and LH), as it can interfere with their mechanism of action and potentially cause adverse effects.
As always, it’s a good idea to consult with your healthcare provider or fertility specialist before starting any new supplement, especially if you are already taking other medications or undergoing fertility treatments like IUI or IVF.
Vitex, also known as Chasteberry, is a supplement that is often used for maintaining regular menstrual cycles and supporting fertility. It can be taken on its own or found in certain herbal teas, like Fertilitea by Fairhaven Health.*
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While delicious, it’s important to note that Vitex should not be taken with certain medications such as birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, or fertility drugs such as clomiphene (Clomid). In addition, vitex should not be taken with dopamine agonist medications, such as bromocriptine (Parlodel) or cabergoline (Dostinex), drugs commonly used to treat Parkinson’s Disease and restless leg syndrome.
Finally, it's important to be cautious when taking herbal supplements while trying to get pregnant. Some herbs, like black cohosh and red clover, can contain estrogen-like compounds and should not be taken with fertility drugs or hormone therapies. Other herbs, like ginseng and saw palmetto, may interfere with blood thinners or blood pressure medications. While Traditional Chinese Medicine techniques like acupuncture can provide a nice complement to fertility treatments, be sure to discuss with your GP or fertility specialist before ingesting any unknown herbal supplements.
When you’re trying to conceive – and especially if you’re undergoing fertility treatments – it's important to let your healthcare provider know about any and all fertility supplements you may be taking to make sure they don’t interfere with your treatment plan, medications, or any other supplements included in your daily preconception routine. Thankfully, with careful planning and a little bit of knowledge, fertility supplements can be an incredibly valuable tool on your journey to parenthood.* Visit Fairhavenhealth.com to get 15% off.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Kristyn Hodgdon is the Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer at Rescripted.