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What Is the Connection between Folic Acid and Conception?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Rachel Catherine Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2016
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Folic acid, a type of B vitamin, is considered important for a healthy pregnancy, but there may be a connection between folic acid and conception as well. Essentially, folic acid has been proven to help prevent certain types of birth defects. As such, it may help ensure that a developing baby is free of malformations that might lead to miscarriage or other types of pregnancy loss. Studies have also shown that this B vitamin may help ensure ovulation as well as sperm that are free of abnormalities that could either interfere with conception or increase a woman’s chances of experiencing pregnancy loss. Additionally, men who take folic acid or eat foods that contain folate, the natural form of this vitamin, may have less risk of fathering a child with birth defects or chromosomal abnormalities.

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Often, people discuss folic acid in terms of the prevention of birth defects. Women are usually advised to take it before and during pregnancy to prevent birth defects like spina bifida, which occurs when the spine fails to close as it should. A person may also consider the folic acid and conception connection, however. This nutrient does not help sperm reach an egg and fertilize it but may promote healthy development of the embryo that results from fertilization. When the embryo is healthy and free of defects, a woman is less likely to experience a miscarriage or other type of pregnancy loss and more likely to experience a successful conception.

Though much of the focus of folic acid consumption is on the prevention of birth defects, there is also research evidence to suggest that the B vitamin can promote fertility. For example, one folic acid and conception connection involves the vitamin’s ability to promote healthy processes in the body that ensure regular ovulation. In contrast, when a woman suffers a deficiency in folic acid, problems with the production of red blood cells and imbalances of hormones may interfere with ovulation. Likewise, some hormonal imbalances can increase a woman’s likelihood of having a miscarriage.

The folic acid and conception connection may also affect men. Some studies have produced evidence that folic acid supplementation reduces abnormalities in sperm. With fewer abnormalities, a couple's risk of infertility and miscarriage may be lower. Likewise, the chances that a baby will be born with a birth defect or chromosomal abnormality may be lower when a man supplements with folic acid.

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