The average age of a first-time mother was 21 in 1970, and that age had risen to 26 by 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Women are waiting longer to have children and conception becomes more difficult with age. This has helped drive the demand for fertility products. The dietary supplement Fertilaid and medication Chlomid both promise a better chance at conception, but key differences distinguish the two.
Supplement Versus Medication
Fertilaid is an over-the-counter vitamin supplement that claims to put a woman's hormones into balance to increase the chance of getting pregnant. Created by obstetrician/gynecologist, Amos Grunebaum, Fertilaid also acts as a prenatal vitamin, giving vital nutrients to a newly-formed fetus, according to its website.
Chlomid, also known by its generic name, chlomiphene citrate, is a prescription medication. According to the Mayo Clinic, chlomid changes the hormones in a woman's body to stimulate the release of a healthy, mature and fertile egg. Chlomid is commonly used to treat female infertility, and doctors typically prescribe the medication to women who do not ovulate normally or have an irregular cycle.
Scientific Research on Efficacy
Scant scientific research exists on the efficacy of Fertilaid's ingredients. Chasteberry, also known as vitex agnus-castus, has been used for centuries to help regulate a woman's cycle and to help ease symptoms associated with PMS, but there is insufficient evidence that it aids conception. Same with red clover, which contains phytoestrogens similar to estrogen. But Fertilaid's star ingredient, PABA, has shown some promise in one study cited by the University of Michigan, where previously infertile women ingested 100 milligrams four times per day for months.
Chlomid's efficacy is well documented. A review of published scientific studies performed in 2005 discovered that chlomid stimulates ovulation in 70 percent of patients, and of those successful patients, 40 percent will result in pregnancy. Chlomid may actually work too well, giving you about a 10 percent chance for a multiple pregnancy.
Fertilaid uses a blend of herbs and vitamins including red clover and chasteberry. Side effects are mild and similar for both supplements, including nausea, upset stomach, headache and rash. Chasteberry may interact with some hormone medications and birth control pills, so it is important to consult your physician before starting Fertilaid.
With chlomid, as with any medication, there are some risks and side effects. The Mayo Clinic lists side effects such bloating, stomach or pelvic pain. Seek immediate medical attention if any of these side effects persist. Rare but serious side effects that require immediate medical intervention include vision changes, abnormal vaginal bleeding, extreme mood swings, fluid retention in the stomach, chest and pelvis, and allergic reaction such as rash and swelling.
Regulation of Supplements and Medication
Medications like chlomid are strictly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Drug companies must present the FDA with sufficient scientific data that a drug's benefits outweigh the potential risks, making prescription medication under the supervision of a doctor safe and effective.
Supplements like Fertilaid are not regulated by the federal government before they hit the market. According to Harvard Medical School, supplement companies are not required to prove to the FDA or any other agency that the supplement is safe or effective as long as the components are well-known ingredients, like the ones found in Fertilaid. The FDA only has the power to pull a supplement if it is proven that the product is unsafe after it has been marketed.
According to the Fertilaid website, it takes three months for the effects of the dietary supplement to kick in and the recommended dosage for women is three pills per day, preferably taken with meals. It's not recommended for use if you are breastfeeding or may be pregnant.
A doctor will likely start you out on a low dose of 50 milligrams of chlomid. The pill is taken daily for five consecutive days, starting on the second day of your period. If you are not having a period, your doctor will likely stimulate menstruation with a hormone called progestogen. Chlomid is taken for a period of up to six months. If it does not help you get pregnant in the first six months, it is unlikely to work and your doctor will help you find an alternative treatment.