Researchers at Harvard University recommend that taking iron supplements can reduce the risk of ovulatory infertility problems. In the study, published in ‘Obstetrics & Gynecology‘, 438 cases of infertility were identified due to lack of ovulation, which can result from different conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome or premature ovarian failure. Women who took part in the study were classified according to the amount and type of iron taken (heme/non-heme and organic/ inorganic). Women who took supplements had a 40% lower risk of developing anovulatory infertility compared with women who did not take it. The data was adjusted to take into account potential confounders such as body mass index, age, smoking or physical activity, and the results were shown to be the same.
The conclusions reached by the study included the following:
–The higher the amount of iron ingested daily, the lower the risk, so that in the group taking the higher dose (more than 41 mg/day) the probability of infertility dropped by 62%.
– Iron in the body is essential for the development of eggs, and if the levels of this mineral are low, problems may occur in gamete growth.
– Although the study needs to be replicated in other locations, this would have particular relevance to women with low iron reserves, a condition that occurs frequently as iron deficiency is the most common mineral deficiency of all
Specialists in Reproductive Medicine at ProcreaTec, International Fertility Clinic, recommend taking iron supplements not only because iron is essential for the development of the foetus but also because it affects the production of haemoglobin, a protein found in red blood cells that carries oxygen to the cells. During the gestation period the body needs increased iron so that it can produce more haemoglobin, as the amount of blood in your body increases during pregnancy. If at any stage of pregnancy the body has insufficient iron women may develop anaemia.
Monthly blood tests during pregnancy by the midwife or doctor can show the presence of prenatal anaemia, as well as in the later stages of pregnancy.
Advice from our fertility specialists
These recommendations will help you before and during pregnancy, independently of whether you are undergoing Assisted Reproduction treatment or if you conceive naturally. We hope that you find them useful.
How can iron deficiency be prevented?
Iron that is consumed through diet is difficult for the body to absorb. That is why doctors recommend taking daily iron supplements or prenatal vitamins that contain iron. Of course, it is also recommended to eat a healthy and balanced diet that contains iron-rich foods.
What foods are rich in iron?
Iron from animal-based products is absorbed better by the body than iron from plant-based products.
– Proteins: red meat, chicken, fish, clams, cockles, mussels, turkey, pork. Avoid eating liver during early pregnancy.
– Pulses, tofu
– Dried fruit and nuts such as raisins, dates and pistachios
– Fruits like prunes, figs and apricots
– Vegetables: potatoes, broccoli, beetroot and green leafy vegetables (spinach and chard)
– Whole grains: whole grain bread and cereals.
How to take an iron supplement properly
Specialists at ProcreaTec recommend taking iron first thing in the morning, before eating or drinking anything, with water or natural fruit juice. Iron shouldn’t be taken with milk as calcium hinders iron absorption, as does tea and coffee.
How can you help the body absorb iron?
Vitamin C enhances iron absorption. We recommend eating and drinking foods that are rich in vitamin C at the same time as eating iron-rich foods or iron supplements. Foods with vitamin C include orange or tomato juice, strawberries and green or red peppers.