Supplement May Help Women Get Pregnant
But Expert Says Product Is More About Marketing Than Medicine
Although almost 30% of the women in the supplement group became pregnant, study author Lynn Westphal, MD, agrees that the trial was too small to allow firm conclusions about the effectiveness of FertilityBlend. Recruitment is now under way for a larger study of the product, which will include 100 women.
Fertility specialist Mark Perloe, MD, of Atlanta's Georgia Reproductive Specialists, says the nutritional supplement is more about marketing than medicine. He tells WebMD that in addition to a small sample size, the Stanford study omitted important information about the patients that would allow comparisons about outcome. He adds that the nutritional supplement should have been compared to prenatal vitamins instead of the non-nutritional placebo.
"When I see a patient who wants to get pregnant, the first thing I do is give her a prenatal vitamin and tell her to eat a healthy diet," he says. "Most of the components of this supplement are in prenatal vitamins. And we don't know what the safe and effective doses of the other components are. Just because something is natural doesn't mean it is beneficial."
Perloe says he worries that couples who put off seeking treatment for infertility in order to try unproven approaches like this one risk a further decline in fertility.
"Time is of the essence for women as they get older," he says. "There are fertility issues where nutritional therapy is of some benefit, but it is important to be evaluated."
Westphal agrees that it is not a good idea for older women to put off medical evaluation if they are having trouble conceiving.
"Any patient who is over 35 should see someone after six months of trying," she says. "But this is a potential option for very young women who have not been trying to get pregnant for very long. They don't necessarily need to seek treatment, and they may benefit from this. And it may also be an option for couples who have tried everything else and are about to give up."