Do Protein Supplements Harm Fertility?
A prominent infertility specialist, Dr. Sherman J. Silber, had scheduled an IVF treatment for a couple both around the 40s in age, who had decided to try and have children later in life (Sibler, 2005), but were having some difficulty and elected to try In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).
Prior to the scheduled IVF treatment, a sperm count was conducted to test the husbands fertility, and they found him to be quite fertile with a very high sperm count. According to the case, the husband had “more than 160 million per cc with 90% motility”, which is very good.
The husband started bodybuilding 6 months prior to the scheduled IVF cycle to “be in the best shape possible” (Silber, 2005). He did not take any steroids or hormones, but worked out and took “nutritional supplements”, such as protein shakes. However, when it came time for the first session of IVF for his wife, his once exceptional sperm count had dropped to almost zero.
“He thought that nutritional supplements were harmless,” Dr. Sibler states, “but this may not be the case,”
The purpose of mentioning this case is for individuals who are trying to conceive to be aware of supplements and foods they are consuming, and how this may effect their chances of conceiving. If you are unsure if consuming a certain food or nutritional supplement will decrease fertility, regardless if you are male or female, it is best advised to steer clear of it completely.
According to this particular case and Dr. Silber,“When the husband stopped taking the supplements, his sperm count came back to normal over the next six months,”(Sibler, 2005).
Keep in mind that previously the FDA had attempted to define such dietary supplements as “drugs or food additives” and subsequently remove them from the market (CRNUSA, 2016). However if the FDA had labeled health supplements as “drugs” they would have been subjected to the same rigorous process that the pharmaceutical companies go through to get their drugs to market. Ultimately, this would greatly delay availability of health supplements to consumers.
To prevent this delay and access to health products and supplements that could have potential benefit to consumers health, the DSHEA Act was signed.
The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994,defines a dietary supplement as any product which contains one or more dietary ingredients such as a vitamin, mineral, herb or other botanical, amino acid or other ingredient used to supplement the diet.
The DSHEA Act makes it clear that these products may not be regulated as food additives or drugs under most circumstances (CRNUSA, 2016).
Therefore, protein supplements and other nutritional supplements are not regulated by the FDA, and should be used with caution if a couple is attempting to conceive, by both male and female partners.
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