Food and drug supplements are commonly used by couples looking to improve fertility. There is often the misconception that because a product is labelled as ‘natural’ or formulated to enhance sexual function and fertility, it is safe for conception. Indeed, there are many natural products that have been shown to reduce fertility such as St John’s wort and ginko biloba.
There is also the possibility of adulteration of supplements, either intentional of unintentional. Adulteration is when an impure or inferior component not ordinarily part of that substance is found in the supplement. This may be attributable to poor quality manufacturing or the intentional addition of another compound to improve the efficacy of the product, even though this compound may be a pharmaceutical drug with negative effects on fertility. A great example of this is the adulteration of protein powders with anabolic steroids. The steroids are not listed on the label and make the product more effective without any knowledge by the consumer that they are taking steroids, which have negative consequences for fertility.
Be aware of the potential for adulteration, but importantly know the level of scientific evidence that supports the supplements effect on male and female fertility. You may be better placed to ensure your diet is providing you with the optimal levels of micronutrients to boost your fertility. ‘Natural’ is not the same as ‘safe’.