The Importance of Folate in Female and Male Fertility

Folate plays a role in a number of different processes and functions in the human body. Without this particular vitamin, you may face a wide range of health conditions. Unfortunately, even if you take supplements or eat a diet rich in folate, you can still suffer from folate deficiency symptoms due to a gene mutation. Some of the issues that come from a folate deficiency affect the reproductive systems in both men and women. Let’s take a look at the role folate plays in male and female fertility.

Male Fertility

In men, folate plays a role in DNA synthesis and in cell division, two things that are necessary to create sperm. It takes around 60 days for the body to make new sperm, but if there’s not enough folate available, it’s likely that the number of healthy sperm will be lower than normal. This leads to low sperm count, which makes it more difficult for pregnancy to occur.

Studies have looked at the connection between folate supplements and sperm count. Unfortunately, while there may be a connection between the two, studies have not been conclusive. In fact, one study saw that men with average and below average sperm counts both showed an increase after taking folate and zinc supplements. Even in studies that determined that a folate deficiency was not the cause of participants’ lower sperm count, folate supplements did lead to improvements.

Female Fertility

Folate deficiency symptoms in pregnant women are well-known and quickly corrected, but many women do not realize that a folate deficiency may be preventing them from getting pregnant in the first place. Research has shown that there is strong evidence linking ovulation with folate. Women who took a folic acid supplement showed improved ovulation cycles.

Once pregnant, studies also noted that those taking supplements had higher quality eggs and that the eggs had a better maturation and implantation. The placenta also had fewer developmental issues. Finally, folate also supports the production of progesterone, the sex hormone necessary for pregnancy.

One of the major concerns doctors have is that few women actually get enough folate in their diet. This makes it more difficult to get pregnant and can lead to a number of issues once they are pregnant. Because of this, women may want to take folic acid supplements during their childbearing years in case they become pregnant. Doctors recommend taking 400 mg at minimum and increasing it to 600 mg when pregnant.

If you and your partner have had difficulties in conceiving, the issue may have to do with your folate levels. Talk to your doctor about testing your folate to determine if one or both of you should take a supplement. It could be the key factor in getting pregnant.