When pregnancy eludes you, you might turn to alternative treatments as well as conventional medicine to increase your chances of having a baby. Soy lecithin, a phospholipid, or fatty substance, found in soybeans is touted as a fertility aid for some conditions, including polycystic ovary syndrome and sperm issues. However, no clinical trails have proved that lecithin boosts fertility in women or men. Ask your doctor before taking lecithin supplements.
Lecithin contains D-chiro-inositol, or DCI, a substance that can reduce insulin resistance. If you have polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, you may excrete more DCI than other women or may not use it properly. This can lead to high insulin levels. PCOS and high insulin levels can lead to weight gain, elevated testosterone levels and failure to ovulate, which makes getting pregnant impossible. Lowering insulin resistance could improve your pregnancy odds if you have PCOS.
A review of studies published in the April 2011 issue of "Gynecological Endocrinology" found that supplementation with DCI improved ovulation rates in women with PCOS. In the studies reviewed, however, women took DCI directly rather than taking lecithin as a source of DCI. A study published in the April 1999 issue of "The New England Journal of Medicine" found that 19 of 22 women with PCOS taking DCI ovulated, compared to six of 22 who were taking a placebo.
While several studies have shown that DCI could reverse some of the issues that affect fertility in women with PCOS, no one has done studies specifically on lecithin supplements. Soy lecithin is one of the richest food sources of DCI, according to pharmacist Kathy Lynch, but no studies have shown how much lecithin you would need to consume to get the 1,200 mg of DCI used in some studies.Talk to your doctor before taking large amounts of lecithin, which could cause loss of appetite, nausea, increased salivation or liver problems.
The only studies conducted on sperm after lecithin supplementation have been done on animals. A rabbit study reported in the May 2011 issue of "Egyptian Poultry Science" found that supplementation with soybean lecithin for 12 weeks increased the semen volume, sperm count and sperm motility while decreasing the number of dead and abnormal sperm in the semen samples. While improving sperm quality could help you achieve pregnancy if sperm issues are part of your fertility problem, there's no clinical proof that lecithin would have the same effect in people.