Does Vitamin D Deficiency Affect Fertility?

Vitamin D has gained a large interest in the last decade or so. Initially, it was associated with rickets. But now vitamin D deficiency has been connected with many chronic conditions. Such as heart disease, cancer, autoimmune conditions. Besides, there is a connection between vitamin D deficiency and both male and female infertility. Specialists believe vitamin D can modify the immune system.

Vitamin D and Female Fertility

Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with female fertility in various ways. Almost two-thirds of women with PCOS or polycystic ovarian syndrome may have it. Correcting vitamin D deficiency in women with PCOS can improve their response to controlled ovarian stimulation with fertility drugs such as clomiphene or gonadotropins (Gonal F, Menopur, fostimon, etc.).

It is also reported to improve the pregnancy rates. Beside this, in the longer term it may help reduce insulin resistance, lipid levels and body mass index. These are some of the factors that may lead to a long-term risk of high blood pressure (Hypertension) or Diabetes in later life in such women.

The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism published a recent study with interesting results. It is possible to notice a forty-four percent reduction in the likelihood of live birth in women with PCOS. These women underwent ovulation induction and also had vitamin D deficiency.

The group also reported that after correcting vitamin D deficiency, there is an increasing improvement in ovulation and live-birth. This finding may support the case for correcting vitamin D deficiency in women with PCOS. Above all before starting fertility treatments such as ovulation Induction, Insemination, IVF or ICSI. Besides PCOS, specialists connect vitamin D deficiency with Endometriosis.

In a recent study, Miyashita et al. reported a higher prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in women with severe endometriosis. As compared to women with mild or no endometriosis. So, checking and correcting vitamin D deficiency in women with moderate to severe endometriosis should be important.

As regards fibroids, there is a correlation between the fibroid and vitamin D levels. In fact, there is a higher prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in women with fibroids or uterine myomas.

Vitamin D and Male Fertility

As vitamin D (25 hydroxycholecalciferol) modifies the immune system, it also can cause male infertility.

In a recent study, Jensen et al. report that men with vitamin D deficiency and low calcium levels are more likely to have a fertility problem. Such as low sperm count, low sperm motility and lower levels of total testosterone levels and other male hormones. Specialists know that vitamin D increase the calcium levels in the cells.

In sperm cells, it is necessary an high degree of sperm cell calcium for sperm activation and fertilisation. So, vitamin D deficiency may affect the production of the sperms and also the sperm functions. Hence, checking vitamin D deficiency and correcting it may have potential. It is possible to improve male fertility in men with low sperm count or motility.

Correcting Vitamin D deficiency

The recommended daily intake is around 200-600 IU. The majority of dietary foods – except for oily fish – are deficient in vitamin D.

Daily exposure to sunlight is one of the ways to maintain adequate vitamin D levels. But, when not possible, vitamin D supplements in appropriate dosages may be a solution.