Food and Drug Supplements to Improve Fertility Outcomes

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Abstract

Food and drug supplements (FDS) are extensively used by infertile couples either to supplement medical infertility treatment and assisted conception or as a means to independently improve conception rates. The majority of FDS are composed of antioxidants that are used for male and female infertility. Their use, despite being biologically plausible, lacks scientific support due to limitations stemming from poorly designed small studies. FDS and for that matter complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is plagued by fallacies that confuse or mislead the public and thus may prevent many patients from making the right therapeutic decisions regarding their infertility problem. We do concur that the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence; however, one should be wary of the apparent benign effects of FDS and CAM. The current literature seems to suggest a beneficial effect of antioxidants on male infertility. There is, however, no FDS that has been proven beyond doubt to increase conception rates in female infertility. The additive value of CAM and FDS on the success of assisted conception is also not known. Well-designed randomized studies are urgently needed given the popularity and ever increasing consumption of these supplements by the infertile couples.

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