How Vitamin D Improves Fertility

There is much more to Vitamin D than strengthening bones. Vitamin D deficiency is common, and there is a huge gap between recommended dietary vitamin D intakes and the low vitamin D levels in the general population. Many different tissues in the body contain receptors for it, and through these receptors it controls over 200 different genes in the body. These genes look after various processes such as metabolism, mineral balance, bone strengthening, and reproductive functions.

Women’s Fertility

There are a number of ways Vitamin D improves women’s fertility.

Vitamin D levels of 30ng/ml in the blood have been associated with higher pregnancy rates in women, as opposed to those with lower levels.

Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) is a hormone produced by cells in the developing egg sacs (follicles), and the level of AMH in a woman’s blood is generally a good indicator of her ovarian reserve. (The test for this is known as an egg reserve test.) Vitamin D stimulates the level of AMH, improving her ovarian reserve.

There are high concentrations of Vitamin D in the lining of the uterus during the first trimester of pregnancy, and this appears to be important for

  • improving the overall health of the lining
  • implantation of the fertilised egg
  • preventing the immune system from causing the body to reject the embryo

Studies have found that women with normal levels of Vitamin D are four times more likely to conceive through IVF than those with low levels. In fact, the levels of Vitamin D in the follicles that release the egg are an indicator of how successful an IVF treatment is likely to be. For every extra ng/ml in the follicular fluid, there is an increase in the likelihood of achieving pregnancy by 7%.

Current research also suggests that Vitamin D plays an important role in treating uterine fibroids, which often impact on fertility.

Investigations have also shown that pregnant women with higher levels of Vitamin D had higher live birth rates than those with lower levels.

PCOS and Vitamin D

There has been a significant amount of research on Vitamin D levels and PCOS. PCOS is a reproductive disorder which decreases a woman’s fertility and increases her insulin resistance. Numerous studies have reported low levels of Vitamin D in women with PCOS.

There is increasing evidence that Vitamin D affects both insulin secretion and metabolism, and Vitamin D deficiency may be an important factor that increases insulin resistance in PCOS, especially in overweight women.

PCOS normally involves excess levels of male hormones and menstrual disturbances, and links have been found between low Vitamin D levels and each of these issues in women with PCOS.

In addition, taking Vitamin D supplements by women with PCOS has been shown to

  • improve their metabolism
  • improve their glucose (blood sugar) control
  • improve the regularity of their menstrual cycle
  • improve the success of IVF treatments

Men’s Fertility

Vitamin D deficiency has been found to result in low sperm motility (swim effectively) and morphology (size and shape). Too little (<50nmol/L) or too much (>125nmol/L) Vitamin D is also associated with poor sperm counts.

Vitamin D is also responsible for inducing the acrosome reaction, an essential part of the sperm and egg fusion during fertilisation.

Free Fertility Assessment

If you are trying to conceive, are looking to start trying in the next 12 months, or are going through IVF, we recommend having a Comprehensive Fertility Assessment at our clinic. The Assessment will look into what is going on in your body, what is causing any problems, and the best way to sort them out. (Terms and conditions- the Assessment is a completely free service, with no obligations whatsoever.)

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