Avoid taking L-Arginine for Infertility

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.

2015-04-16 07.20.55

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.



55 thoughts on “Avoid taking L-Arginine for Infertility

    • Yeah I read it on a website today too! My Dr (the holistic GP) and the research seems to support its use though. When I say research I mean the early stuff as that’s all there is now. There’s a whole chapter in the book on it. That whiz bang fertility specialist in WA I mentioned supports its use too.


    • The book does say not to take it if you are trying naturally as it can mess with your hormones and intefere with ovulation. They aren’t worried about that for an IVF cycle though as you take over your cycle with medication.


  1. Ooo thank you for sharing this information! Very helpful. I actually looked for some L-Arginine at the chemist a while back as i have read that it is helpful, but they were sold out so i didn’t get any; and had forgotten about it until now! I’m going to stick with the Royal Jelly only because I have nothing to lose really, i’ll see how it goes. 🙂 How are you feeling? Any hopeful signs? 🙂


    • Lovely do you have a blog email address? I will scan and send you her pages on Royal Jelly so you can read the info if you like? I feel good, best I’ve felt in ages actually! No signs but it’s still so early, isn’t it? If I test it won’t be until next Saturday at the earliest as that will be 12 days post IUI. Right now I’m just plodding along and planning for the future as if I am still on the journey. I don’t want to miss out on one day of prepping this body in case we really are back to another IVF round in 3-4 months.

      Hey did you know you can get consults with international clinics? We have just booked in to have our file reviewed at CCRM (Colorado Centre for Reproductive Medicine). They do loads of research there (they are pretty much considered the pioneers in fertility research I believe so very forward thinking clinic). The consult is $355 USD. I will let you know how it goes. 🙂


      • I do! eveclo@hotmail.com 🙂 that would be awesome thank you so much!

        It is early days, but good that you are feeling good! No, i didn’t know that. Is it that they are more advanced? How do you do the consult, is it via Skype? That’s really interesting. I have been reading about beta-3 integrin protein that is necessary for implantation. A girl on my Babyandbump account is only 26 and has had multiple failed IVF’s and just found out she does not have this protein that is necessary for implantation, so that might be an interesting thing for me to look into. I have had a hysteroscopy but i don’t know whether they looked into this or not. I will ask when I am doing my FET.

        Please do let me know how it goes -when is your consult? Good luck with it all. But i hope you don’t need it :)xx


  2. “In one study testing its efficacy ALL the women who conceived suffered early losses – the super early type normally attributed to chromosomal abnormalities.”
    OMG. I can’t believe your acupuncturist recommended taking it. Although – I’ve read that it helps fertility before, so I think it’s a popular misconception. I remember reading that about the royal jelly too and thinking gawd – I’ve seen hundreds of women talking about taking it on forums. It really , REALLY does pay to do your own scientific research. You absolutely can’t beat medical literature for backing up your own decisions. Your vitamin D is low isn’t it? Especially given where you live and the fact it’s end of summer. I think it’s good you’ve had that tested and are supplementing. You’re doing so much work – way more than any doctor can do for one patient. I know this is going to pay off because you’re doing all the right things and looking at the whole picture. Nothing is going to escape and soon you’ll be popping fantastic eggs out every time! xxxx


    • Here’s hoping. I do worry that I will make another wrong decision and take a stupid supplement I shouldn’t and fuck it all up. I mean, what if the L-Arginine did actually currupt more of my embies than I would have normally had? I still think we prob have a high number of abnormals but still, what if it fucked what would have been a good one? Anyway, it’s all a journey.


      • Oh gosh – I’d be asking myself the exact same thing. Maybe that could have been a big chunk of the problem. BUT even if it was, a) you did the best you could with what you knew at the time and b) now you DO have more information so you can do even better. It is all a journey – a bloody long and ridiculous one for some of us – but the advantage you have is your ability to research and learn and question in order to improve your odds xxxx

        Liked by 1 person

    • I also read that study were the 3 women who conceived after taking L-arginine had pregnancy losses. I am just really surprised to discover that my prenatal vitamins “Pregnacare” contain L-Arginine!!!


  3. The melatonin from what I remember reading, is only suggested for during stim phase of IVF. For IUIs it messes the cycle up. I’m glad to hear you’re getting yourself a new game plan. You seem much more upbeat and positive,despite your frustration. I’m still hoping you don’t need future treatments and that this IUI is yours! Xx


    • Yes she does only suggest it for stim phase of the cycle as it can mess up your cycle. If we dont’ have a positive outcome this cycle then if I start take it then it will be done knowing that I can’t do another IUI before the IVF. I am feeling really good, almost like my normal self. It is such a a relief. xx

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting. I remember last year when I first started seeing my OB, I asked about Melatonin, and he told me not to take it. The amount of research you’ve done is amazing…as is the amount of stuff you take every day! I sometimes feel overwhelmed with my 3-4 things I take daily! How are you doing, BTW?


    • Yes def don’t take melatonin if you are trying on natural cycles (so IUIs are included in that). It can interfere with ovulation. I am only going to take it knowing we are leading up to an IVF cycle and then your meds are regulating you. I am doing really well by the way. No signs of anything so not particularly hopeful but it is still early so who knows?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is very interesting. I am glad this book has a scientific background. There is so much information out there and is difficult to know what is legit. I remember many times being willing to try just about anything if someone told me it could potentially increase my chances to getting pregnant. It can be so overwhelming!


  6. It must be maddening to go from one trusted resource who recommends X to another trusted resource who says X is shit, go with Y. Enough to drive you off the deep end. 😦

    You’ve always been one to put in the hard work and research, research, research, so I know you’ll go into any decision having thought it through. Good luck, lovely. xoxo


    • It really is maddening. That’s why I do like this book as she does refer to scientific research only in her decisions and she presents all the results and why she believes something to be true. Thx hon x

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think the key here is for “some” conditions and the book did discuss the initial study where it was found favourable and the condition associated with that. I will edit the post to mention this and say ‘only take it if your clinic prescribes’. My concern and the reason for writing this post is that L-Arginine is listed on many google sites as a fertility fix it and anyone can just pop out and buy it and take it. If you don’t have a specific condition where it would be beneficial then you can actually do harm and that is what concerned me. It’s not like taking a supplement that doesn’t hurt if it doesn’t work. Anyway I am really glad you posted this comment as now I can a) update my post and b) contact CCRM for a second opinion on my regime. I have heard many people speak highly of the centre and the book even refers to it as the leader in fertility research. They do international consults for only $355 according to their website! Money well spent I think!


  7. I’ve also heard melatonin is not advised if you are on any thyroid medication but I haven’t taken it or done the research on it myself. I’d recommend algae omegas instead of fish oil for several reasons (I’m a marine biologist so I know a lot about this one). Lots of luck, glad you are getting good information and Drs you are comfortable with!


    • Ooooo algae omegas. I will bring that up with my doc at the follow up appt. Thank you. And great info re melatonin. I think I read this in the book but kind of skipped over it as I know I don’t have a Thyroid condition (have been tested for it a gazzilion times).

      Liked by 1 person

  8. It is frustrating. And contradictory information abounds everywhere. For example, the recent trend toward iodine deficiency in childbearing age women is documented in studies and well-accepted journals. However, a friend who does not use iodized salt, cannot eat dairy, and doesn’t eat much seafood (all the most common sources of iodine in people, add in eggs and that’s about the list in total) decided to use a little supplemental iodine. Her MD flippantly (and condescendingly) told her, “I don’t know why you do that. You can get it just fine from your food.” Had he took time to look it up or ask her about her diet, he’d know she was in the high risk zone. It is hard, though. Information is EVER changing. I understand lack of knowledge, but I don’t understand anger/confrontational behavior/unwillingness to learn or change. I don’t like supplements much because I’ve seen so many changes in guidelines in my brief life, and so I try hard to get things from food, even if it requires learning to like oysters for extra zinc and red palm oil for vitamin E. But I know you eat very well, and I never mean to over-speak my welcome. Glad you got the word out about the potential harm in l-arginine. Seems like it should be readily available, assuming a person is absorbing things well, from routine meat/seafood/nuts/certain grains, and then would come along with all the other things the body needs to use it properly.


    • Yes it does seem so contradictory! I think it would be great if we could get everything from food but sometimes we need a more powerful burst to get us through. My doc was giving the example about the antioxidant thing and berries the other day. You’d have to eat 30,000 each day to get the bump you need. That is pretty fascinating. Things do change so much when it comes to this stuff and that is what is scary. In the book she gives the example of taking folic acid in early pregnancy. Drs did initial research in 1989 showing this but as the study wasn’t large enough or controlled it was poo pood and it wasn’t until further research came out in 1999 that they knew there was a direct link. That was 10 years in there where some Drs would have been prescribing and considered kooky. It can work the other way though (kinda like the L-Arginine story – initial research makes it look good, more comes out and it actually looks harmful for most women unless there is a specific medical condition). We are all taking a risk when we take supplements not extensively research for sure. I wish it was so easy to fix my eggs in the short term just by eating food but I feel like they need a bit more help than that right now Maybe if I had another year I could do it just by food? Who knows. Anyway, we will see. I’m like the little bunny experiment. ha


      • I’m a firm believer in focused supplementation. Hope I didn’t come across that I wasn’t. I mean, heck, contaminated food/produce/meat can kill you, too. 🙂 (Insert the Jaws movie sound here.) I just read too much Terry Wahls. I’m hoping really soon, to hear, my dam, of a kindling with a kit. (Rabbit talk: http://www.debmark.com/rabbits/breeding.htm) 🙂 Positive thoughts and hopes your way!


        Liked by 1 person

        • hehe no not at all Terri. You always come across informed and knowledgeable. Please don’t worry about that. 🙂 It is risky business though and I appreciate you pointing out another side of one big story.


          • Oh good, then. I was a bit worried I had come across in an unintended way. I use the internet as a source of learning–we all learn together (and make mistakes together–ugh). Just wish I wasn’t learning so much about the inside of infertility from you. I hope you have a good weekend. Terri


  9. Dude, that so pisses me off that your acupuncturist was telling you to take shit that was negatively impacting your fertility! What the holy hell?! I’m glad you emailed her and I hope she never recommends it again. It’s good to hear that you love that book and you have some supplements you feel good about!


  10. Hey Emily, love your blog btw, it’s very funny. I came across it while following Little Miss PMA’s, who I cycled with in December on BC.

    Anyway, I just bought It Starts with the Egg (£12 over here!) and I’m now confused about plastics and shampoos and all that. Seriously, if I touch a receipt for too long my next cycle will fail? Do I really have to go and buy non- plastic containers to take my soup to work in? I’ve kinda been the person who will try anything – if someone told me to only eat wild spinach grown in Outer Hebrides that had been urinated on by yaks I’d probably give it a go. But then I think crack whores get preggo, or women who drink buckets of coffee, or paint their nails so why not me? (Not the crack btw but do need a coffee or two.) Just wondering what your thoughts were on the other chapters in the book.
    Good luck with it all
    Jewels xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for popping in a leaving me this message. I love your sense of humour. Do you blog???? I am actually going to blog a bit about the plastics. It is impossible to avoid but we are making some big changes to remove a lot of plastic from our lives. Mainly because we got the message from this book PLUS a leading IVF specialist who is very successful here in AUS also recommends it. I will blog about it soon promise.

      I will say one thing though, I too have had the crack whore though (fucking crack whores) but the whole point of this journey when you are suffering from infertility is that you aren’t the norm. And I think it is perfectly feasible to believe that toxins can effect us all differently which is what is really happening if that bird over there heating her plastic containers in the microwave and dishwasher is popping out kid after kid and I’m not. Get what I mean? Good luck with your journey. I shall write about plastics soon! PS Hope you enjoy the book. I loved it and almost half of it is references. She has done a lot of research and that impresses me.


      • Hey
        No I don’t blog, just read other people’s.

        I found the book interesting, but view it with a sceptic’s eye. I did take royal jelly for my second round, (my own decision,didn’t tell clinic) and it was abandoned as had a freaky follicle that took over the others do think perhaps she was right about that. Am due to start attempt #2 in the next few weeks.

        I do think whether IVF/IUi/etc will work is down to science – right egg/sperm/lining/
        DNA time etc rather than whether I had a slice of white toast for brekkie. I guess trying to help get a good egg can help too, but it’s only a part of it. I will stop heating food in plastic, as that’s achievable. But I’m not giving up my espresso maker (with its controversially evil plastic components) for nothing.

        Irradicating plastic from our lives is an unachievable target, and another thing to fail at. I’m not going to beat myself up. I do think it is a way of taking control over the process – we are so helpless during the process – reliant on embrologists, consultant as, drugs and science – it’s having something that’s controllable.
        But, like I say, I’m definitely more aware and will take some small steps.

        I look forward to hearing your musings on the subject soon!


        • I think a healthy dose of skepticism is important with all this stuff. I probably view it a bit more favourably as seriously, it is about the only thing I’ve read that had so much science behind it. In saying that of course she gets to choose the science she presents but I do think there is something in it.

          I totally agree that IVF etc works when he have the right combination of factors. Can we influence these factors? Well I really hope so as if we can’t i am looking like I am screwed. So I need to believe that changes like diet and plastics and yada yada will help. I have been hesitant to put too much stock into them before now but I guess I am at that point. It helped that I know there is a leading IVF dude her in AUS that feels that way. He has great success so maybe there is something in it? The plastic thing is gaining more traction here too. Did you watch the short doco I posted a link to a little while ago? It was put together by a well respected show here – they are not sensationalist at all. They deal with Science and facts. It was quite good. There’s also an OB up here that I know goes mental at his patients if they drink out of plastic water bottles (the kind you get from the shops). He has recently been involved with research into BPA and effects on the fetus and it did not look good.

          We are all different. What impacts your body is probably different to what impacts mine and that why for me, I need to consider these options. I am not normal when it comes to fertility so my solution is probably a bit out of left field too. That’s where my brain is at.

          I love your thoughts on the control thing. SO very true. I know it makes me feel better when I can do something and have something to work on. I actually enjoy the stims phase of IVF for crying out loud as I feel like I am really doing something to generate a result. How’s that for wackadoodle? lol


  11. Haha I know what you mean – at least stabbing yourself with needles everyday feels like you’re doing something. I quite like it too, and I get to eat loads of avocados too.
    I think you’re right really, we’re all different, react differently and if we can make changes and it works then thumbs up. If it doesn’t, at least we tried. I bought glass jars for my salads yesterday so, there, I conceded! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi Emily.thanka for sharing with us your information about l arginine.great information. I wonder do you have any information from that book about mail fertility and l arginine.does l arginine harm mans sperm .


  13. The study the book references were done on patients taking gonadotropic drugs. The studies also do not say how much arginine they were taking. Arginine is known to be a contraindiction when taking with drugs due to NO compounding effects with that of many medications.

    These studies were not well written or very relevant to people not taking prescription drugs/steroids for IVF treatment.


    • Thank you so much for taking the time to leave that comment Luke. I love that future readers have the opportunity to come across it and then make their own decisions. I think at best we can say that the use of L-Arginine is ambiguous and certainly can negatively impact some people on their fertility journey which only goes on to support my post – if there is ambiguity then best not take it unless your specialist says so. This was more aimed at those people out there self medicating so to speak and my comments still stand for that. People can then go on to make their own choices. I did raise this all with my specialist and he wasn’t concerned about me taking it at all. I mentioned the studies and he said “Yes well people can cherry pick their studies” and that is very true. Also, even though the Egg book was recently published the studies used for L-Arginine are a little older so not exactly as current as I’d like them to be. But it’s still too ambiguous for me – especially when I took the stuff my previous 3 cycles and have had issues with embryo quality (driven we think by egg quality). Thanks again for stopping by and leaving helpful info for the readers. Cheers


  14. If you dont mind me asking… what were you DHEA levels? I just had my tested and have been on the fence about supplementing… But not getting much help/info from my doctor in that regard.

    Also very curious about the royal jelly? I’m on day 4 of that…Lord help me and all this mixed information 😕


    • Hello Angela! I can’t remember my exact levels sorry but I know they were well within normal range so I didn’t supplement with it. There are certain infertility issues that respond well to it though so it is worth looking into.

      As for Royal Jelly, Rebecca Fett, author of It Starts with the Egg, didn’t believe the research supported its use. I highly recommend reading the book. The kindle download is pretty low coast if you have one.


  15. Hello, I know this is an old post but I came across it when researching L-Arginine that my acupuncturist has recommended my partner start taking in preparation for IVF. I am in the UK and my egg stores are low.

    When you were doing your research did you form a view on the man taking L-Arginine?

    Yesterday I ordered ‘It Starts with an Egg’ and am very pleased I did now that I see you found it so helpful! I am already taking a conception vitamin with folic acid and vitamin D and have just ordered Ubiquinol. My acupuncturist didn’t have a view on melatonin so holding off until I speak to my doctor again.

    Thank you 🙂


    • From what I recall there is no issue for guys taking it and it may even be helpful. I’m sure Rebecca refers to this in the egg book so I hope you’ve managed to get some clarity. Good luck!!


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