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Omega-3 supplements likely to shorten time to pregnancy

What if regular use of certain supplements could bring pregnancy sooner?

What if regular use of certain supplements could bring that pregnancy sooner? The time it takes to get pregnant is an all too common discussion among women. The longer it takes, the higher the stress and anxiety women experience, as well as the pressing need to start having fertility testing and investigations.

Different supplements have been used in an effort to prepare for pregnancy and to help increase the chances of getting pregnant sooner. Omega-3 fatty acids supplements have attracted the interest of infertility research long time ago, with studies showing a possible benefit for women having IVF treatment. Omega-3 fatty acids, are essential fats that the body cannot produce on its own, so they have to be taken through diet, which is rich in fish oil. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential components of cell membranes, the physical barriers that keep our cells intact, taking part in various functions and helping our body through their anti-inflammatory actions.

In 2006, Pia Saldeen, a researcher from the University of Lund in Sweden, reported that the intake of omega-3 fatty acids through diet had dropped by 80% over the past 80 years,. She estimated that the majority of reproductive age local population was suffering from omega-3 deficiency, a contributory factor to various disease states, including infertility (1).

A few years later, Fatima Hammiche, from Erasmus University, in Rotterdam, studied the role of omega-3 intake a few weeks before having IVF treatment and concluded that higher intake of omega-e fatty acids was resulting in improved formation of embryos in the IVF lab, while the number of developing follicles  in the ovaries during stimulation was reduced, along with oestrogen hormone levels. It was then that omega-3 fatty acids were proposed as potentially beneficial in assisted reproduction, by maintaining a mild stimulation setting for the ovaries, which is so important for implantation and pregnancy which is to follow. Embryo morphology, the shape and architecture of the early stages the embryo goes through was found to be improved in women that had higher intake of omega-3 fatty acids (2).

Since that study of Pia Saldeen, many more researchers continued to look into the role omega-3 rich diets and omega-3 supplements were playing in IVF treatment outcomes. It was in 2018, when Y.H. Chiu from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in a publication for the EARTH study team, published results of a study looking at omega-3 levels, as measured in blood of women going through IVF treatment, and compared those with the chance of getting pregnant. An increase of 8% was found in the probability of getting pregnant and delivering a baby following IVF, when blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids were higher (3).

More recently, researchers have looked at the potential benefit omega-3 supplements could also have in women having just started trying for a pregnancy. Jamie Stanhiser, from the University of North Carolina, in USA, looked into the effect of omega-3 intake during the menstrual cycle in women who have been trying for less than 3 months for a pregnancy and that did not have a history of infertility. Without being able to study accurate dosing of supplements and length of intake, it was found that regular intake of omega-3 supplements, at least for 20% of days during the menstrual cycle, was increasing 1.5 times the probability of getting pregnant. This, could be the start of further investigations on the role of omega-3 supplements in women trying naturally for a pregnancy, given the low cost and the ease of taking a regular supplement (4).

Omega-3 fatty acids are highly important in maintaining the body’s various functions and metabolism. They appear to play an important role in fertility as well, not only while preparing for assisted reproduction and IVF, but also, while trying for a natural pregnancy, as they may shorten the time it takes for a pregnancy to start.


  1. Pia Saldeen: Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Structure, Function and Relation to the Metabolic Syndrome, Infertility, and Pregnancy. METABOLIC SYNDROME AND RELATED DISORDERS Volume 4, Number 2, 2006 Pp. 138–148 
  2. Fatima Hammiche: Increased preconception omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid intake improves embryo morphology. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2010.11.021 
  3. Y.H. Chiu: Serum omega-3 fatty acids and treatment outcomes among women undergoing assisted reproduction. doi:10.1093/humrep/dex335
  4. J Stanhiser: Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation and fecundability.

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