Many of the supplements that we recommend for our patients to use are based upon theory or observational studies. That’s why when we have additional research to support a recommendation; it creates even more excitement and promise. That’s how we currently feel about inositol.
Inositol is a naturally occurring vitamin-like chemical that is common in fruit. It occurs in two forms; myoinositol and its alternate form D-chiro-inositol. It is not considered a vitamin because your body is capable of making this vitamin B-like substance. Unfortunately, some women might not make enough to insure the health of their immature eggs. Disappointingly, studies suggest egg quality correlates with the presence of this important substance.
Inositol has been classified as an insulin sensitizing agent like metformin. Also like metformin, it has been shown to have other important effects that seem to benefit outcomes for women undergoing fertility. Additionally, inositol improves responsiveness of the immature follicle (developing egg and its hormonal support team) to the hormone FSH for women going through IVF.
A recent review of studies performed on women taking this supplement during IVF treatment suggested that there may be several other benefits. They found that the women with a predicted low response required less medication to stimulate their ovaries if they were on this supplement. More importantly, they appeared to produce higher quality embryos and had a higher pregnancy rate.
As a note of caution, since this supplement seems to have similar actions to metformin—it is not recommended to use both during the same treatment cycle. This information seems very reassuring that women that have not tolerated metformin or choose not to take that medication—a supplement containing both myoinositol and D-chiro-inositol may provide some (or possibly all) of the same benefits.
Robert Greene, MD, FACOG