Here’s yet another reason to get enough vitamin D in your diet: It could aid in fertility for women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)-related infertility.
Researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found that women who started infertility treatments with vitamin D deficiencies were 40 percent less likely to become pregnant. The research was presented last month at the annual American Society for Reproductive Medicine Scientific Congress & Expo in San Antonio, Texas.
The hormone disorder impacts about five to 10 percent of women, and can lead to other complications such as high cholesterol, diabetes and infertility.
This isn’t the first time vitamin D has been suggested to help PCOS patients conceive.
In a 2012 study, women with PCOS showed improved signs of fertility after taking 100,000 IU of vitamin D a month. The vitamin intake boosted the number of mature follicles and improved menstrual regularity, according to that study. Nonetheless, the results were proven to not be statistically significant. A later study in 2015 linked vitamin D deficiency and metabolic and endocrine disorders in PCOS patients.
“Our study builds on existing research linking vitamin D deficiency and diminished ovulation in response to fertility medications, and diminished likelihood of achieving a pregnancy that results in delivery of a live born infant showing it plays a significant role in fertility of women with PCOS,” stated lead author Samantha Butts, MD, MSCE, an associate professor at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, to Penn Medicine News.
Her team examined results of previously completed trials that looked at the efficacy of fertility drugs on pregnancy rates. Data from more than 1,000 women showed that vitamin D deficiency was linked to a lower chance of getting pregnant and delivering. Regardless of age, body mass index, race and other factors, not having enough vitamin D was a problem for the women. In fact, vitamin D deficiency seemed only to affect women with PCOS.
“We’ve identified an important association between low vitamin D levels, and the likelihood of delivering a baby that seems to vary according to the underlying cause of infertility,” said Butts, who added that more research is needed to see which patients would benefit most for vitamin D deficiency screening.
“If we’re going to shift our screening practices, we need to base that on additional research that looks at even larger numbers of women than we have thus far,” she noted.