How Does Geritol Aid in Pregnancy?

Geritol is an adult multivitamin supplement that is rumored to help infertile women conceive 4. The makers of Geritol dispute these rumors, saying that the multivitamin is not designed to be a fertility aid and there is no evidence that it can be used to treat infertility. However, there may be evidence that an ingredient in this supplement can aid in helping women with specific fertility issues to conceive.

The Key Ingredient

It isn't the supplement itself that may help women with fertility issues. The possible truth to the conception rumors lies within the multivitamin, one of the key ingredients: iron. One Geritol pill contains 16 milligrams of iron, according to the manufacturer. In a study published in the November 2006 "Obstetrics and Gynecology," fertility researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston found that iron may just be the key ingredient helping women who've taken Geritol and subsequently become pregnant. The researchers also concluded that iron-deficiency anemia may be causing infertility in a small part of the female population.

The Fertility Study

The Harvard researchers studied 18,000 women who were diagnosed with infertility, were of childbearing age and were not going through menopause. The study found that a small part of that population -- 438 women -- had fertility problems caused by an ovulatory disorder. A closer look at this subpopulation found that the risk of infertility decreases when the women took a high dose of iron (about 76 milligrams) per day. The subpopulation's risk of infertility decreased by 60 percent.

The Geritol Connection

The Harvard researchers believe that the women who did manage to conceive after taking the iron over time were actually iron deficiency anemic prior to taking the iron supplements. Anemia is a condition affecting the red blood cells. The body fails to produce enough red blood cells at a rate necessary for the body to function because the body is not getting enough iron and other micronutrients needed to help create the red blood cells in the bone marrow. The most important of those nutrients is iron. Anemia also causes problems in other systems of the body, including the reproductive system. When the anemia is corrected, the ovulatory problems (issues that lead to the ovaries failing to produce an egg) also reconcile, allowing the woman to conceive.

Signs and Symptoms

Of course, not every woman has a problem with anemia. An article in "U.S. News & World Report" estimates that 20 percent of young women are anemic. Most probably don't know it. These women could benefit from taking multivitamin supplement that contains iron. Women who are anemic experience fatigue, weakness and trouble breathing while the body is at rest. Women who experience these symptoms should consult with their doctor before starting supplements.