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Women's Health: Iron pills may boost fertility

Women taking the dietary supplements have a lower risk for ovulation problems

Women who take iron supplements are at significantly lower risk for infertility than women who do not, according to a study of female nurses.

Dr. Jorge Chavarro, a research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, studied more than 18,000 female nurses who had no history of infertility and attempted to become pregnant between 1991 and 1999. Their average age at the beginning of the study was 32 years.

During eight years of followup, 438 women reported infertility due to a problem with ovulation. Women who took iron pills had a 40 per cent lower risk of infertility than women who did not use the supplements.

The apparent protective effect of iron pills was even stronger in women who took supplements with a high iron content (41 milligrams or more): These women had a 62 per cent lower risk of infertility than non-users.

The authors concluded that women planning a pregnancy should consider iron supplementation because it may help prevent iron deficiency and improve fertility. However, they cautioned that more research is needed to confirm the association between iron intake and a reduced risk of infertility.