I think I mentioned in a recent post that I have been reading the book It Starts with the Egg by Rebecca Fett.
This is a brilliant book and if you are struggling with infertility in any way, shape or form then I highly recommend you give this book a go. I think it cost me all of $6 to download on Kindle. Seriously.
There are a lot of things that I love about this book:
1. It is a recent publication (early March 2014) so it is only abut 1 year old. This means CURRENT research folks.
2. Rebecca herself has a background in science. She understands scientific papers and journals and she knows where to find them.
3. She takes all the science-y stuff and puts it in nice plain easy to understand English for us all.
I really really love this book and can’t recommend it enough. I am only half way through but I have now finished the sections on plastics as toxins and helpful and harmful fertility supplements. It is this section on harmful supplements that has really alarmed me and I had to come and write a blog post about it right away so if someone googles “L-arginine + fertility” then maybe this post will come up.
My acupuncturist had me taking L-Arginine for a loooooooong time and if you do a google search for supplements to try for fertility it is one that appears on many a list. I won’t go into the thinking behind it all – if you want the detail, get the book – but suffice to say essentially the science seems to indicate that despite their first impressions, L-Arginine is likely to actually reduce egg quality as opposed to improve it.
I am beyond fucked off about this but there is no point in hanging onto it. I did text my acupuncturist and recommend that she read the book and explained to her briefly why that was. I hope she doesn’t take it personally but I had to say something. I can’t just let her keep recommending L-Arginine to people when it could actually be doing more harm than good.
In one study testing its efficacy ALL the women who conceived suffered early losses – the super early type normally attributed to chromosomal abnormalities. The study was small so you can’t say it is conclusive but far out, what are the chances of that happening normally? I’d say it’s pretty unusual. There are others studies that also support this finding (no she didn’t base this broad claim on only one study!) so if you are keen to know more, get the book!
The other two things she does not recommend despite internet rumours to the contrary are Royal Jelly and pycnogenol.
EDIT: I feel compelled to edit this post after publication based on a comment made by one of my readers that CCRM (Colorado Centre for Reproductive Medicine – a leader in the fertility field) uses L-Arginine for some of its patients. The book does mention one area where L-Arginine seems to help and it was this area and research surrounding it that prompted the further research to be done. It is however VERY specific and it does appear that if you don’t fit into this specific framework then it is likely that you are going to damage your egg quality if taking L-Arginine rather than help it. It is not a supplement that you can say “oh well if it doesn’t work it can’t hurt”. I don’t believe that to be true from what I’ve read and that is why I felt it important to write this post.
People are searching fertility forums and websites everywhere for tips and L-Arginine is usually given as a tip and it doesn’t come with a caveat. This the caveat. If your clinic recommends it for YOU knowing your circumstances then great, take it. I am just suggesting caution when it comes to advice from alternative practitioners or self medication via Dr Google. I hope this clarifies. Obviously I am not a Dr, I am just writing my opinion based on what I have read that actually has some science backing it. Thanks for reading 🙂
Yesterday we actually visited what I call our hippy GP. She is a standard general practitioner but she is very open minded about alternative medicines with good research. She has increased what I am taking but I am trusting of her and after reading this book will just stick with her. Incidentally, she had no idea why I’d ever be told to take L-arginine so that was interesting.
My pill list is now massive again. Check them out! Here is what I’m taking:
- Broccoli sprouts – yes they put them in a pill. I can’t remember why – they help absorb something or other I think.
- Fish oil – liquid form which actually isn’t too bad.
- Vit D – my recent blood test showed levels of 80 which is just within the accepted parameters but she likes it up around 150-200. She also thinks 80 is pretty shit for the end of summer. I would have to agree.
- Vit E
- CoQ10 – I’m taking 300iu of Ubiquinol
- Thorne Prenatal – she changed me to this brand as the folic acid has to be a particular form for the best performance and my current prenatal wasn’t offering that. You can get Thorne brand on iherb.com
- Cellgevity – acupuncturist had me on these so she’s not wrong about everything. I’d gone off them but the doc put me back on.
- Zinc double strength
- Melatonin- I haven’t started taking this yet. Just researching what it would mean to take it if I was actually pregnant from the IUI
My DHEA levels are actually really good so despite the positive research behind them in relation to fertility I am going to sit those ones out. I will discuss further with doc again next week. I also had a bunch of blood work done so will see what comes back there. Hopefully there won’t be too many more pills to add into the mix.
We are also seeing another specialist next Wednesday for a second opinion. I have a funny feeling we might end up going with him. Already I’ve just found out that he always prescribes melatonin and Dr D isn’t into it at all. I think this new doc, Dr K, will actually be more on our wavelength…
Anyway, this was mostly meant to warn you of the perils of taking L-Arginine. Just make sure you are informed, that’s all. I am onto the chapters about nutrition now. Will let you know what I find out, especially if it’s alarming. Chat soon.