Folate for PCOS

by Nicole Holovach, RD – Dietitian at Pulling Down the Moon

Nicole Holovach, RD

Nicole Holovach, RD

For the majority of the population, folic acid and folate are the same thing – a nutrient found in food and prenatal vitamins that helps prevent neural tube defects in babies. While the terms are often used interchangeably, there is an important distinction between the two. Folate is a B vitamin found in foods like dark leafy greens, lentils, beans, eggs, sunflower seeds, and liver. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate. It is only found in fortified foods and supplements and must be converted to the active form within the cell. Humans are unable to make their own folate, so we have to get it from food or supplements.

Most prenatal vitamins contain folic acid because it’s less expensive, more stable, and more of it is absorbed than folate. But there are several factors that affect conversion of folic acid to the active form. Under normal dietary conditions, absorbed folic acid is converted into an active form used by the body. Age, environmental factors, a defect in the converted gene, and certain drugs can all play a part in how effectively folic acid is converted.

Folate for PCOS Patients

In certain clients, I may have them switch to a prenatal with folate, or add a folate supplement, depending on their health issues. For my clients with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), I now have a reason to potentially add a folate supplement.

A recent study showed that folate, the active form, has beneficial effects on metabolic profiles in women with PCOS. The study was a randomized controlled trial, considered the “gold standard” of research. In the study, 5 mg of folate supplementation, compared with 1 mg and a placebo, resulted in better glucose metabolism and better cholesterol lab values in women with PCOS.

The average prenatal vitamin has between 600-1000mcg (1 mg) of folic acid or folate, so to reach 5 mg another supplement may be needed. While folate is more difficult to find over-the-counter than folic acid, high-end vitamin stores and health food stores may sell folate supplements.

While there is little risk associated with folate supplementation, it is recommended to speak with your physician before taking folate for PCOS or any other supplement.


Learn more about nutrition, call 888-604-7525 or schedule an appointment online.

If you would like to schedule an appointment with a fertility specialist, please speak with one of our New Patient Liaisons at 877-971-7755.

This article was submitted as a guest writer. The opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily represent the opinions of Shady Grove Fertility Center.

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Huffington Post: “Would You Donate Your Eggs to a Couple Who Couldn’t Conceive?”

In vitro fertilization (IVF) has helped tens of thousands of couples conceive for over 35 years. For many women though, using their own eggs for treatment is not possible. When this diagnosis occurs, egg donation is the most effective treatment option: it allows a woman to carry her child and offers the highest pregnancy rates of any fertility treatment.

Recently, the Huffington Post article “Would You Donate Your Eggs to a Couple Who Couldn’t Conceive?” explored the various reasons why couples use donated eggs. We wanted to provide a deeper clinical background for the five key reasons from the original article:

  1. Advanced maternal age.
    Female fertility naturally begins declining in the early 20s, but conception rates remain high into the 30s. By a woman’s mid-30s, the decline accelerates, reaching minimal pregnancy potential by the age of 45. In addition, women over 35 have an increased risk of miscarriage and/or genetic abnormalities in their children as a result of age-dependent changes in egg quality. While it is possible for women to conceive naturally using their own eggs after the age of 42, it is the exception, not the rule. Generally, women ages 44+ use donor eggs for fertility treatment.
  2. Women who have premature ovarian failure or menopause.
    Premature ovarian failure (early menopause) is a condition in which menopause occurs before the age of 40. Women who develop early menopause usually have run out of eggs in their ovaries. The cause of premature ovarian failure is generally unknown. However, there are a few reasons why the ovaries may stop producing eggs at an early age. Exposure to certain chemicals or medical treatments can damage or destroy the ovaries. These may include chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis are sometimes also associated with early menopause, because the immune system forms antibodies that attack and damage the ovaries. Heredity can also play a role: some genetic disorders lead to early menopause.
  3. Women who have poor egg reserves.
    Decreased ovarian reserve occurs when a woman is producing eggs of a lower quality. These women tend to have a poor egg yield and generally poor fertility treatment outcomes when using their own eggs.
  4. “Gay male couples who require both an egg donor and a gestational carrier to have a child.”
    Egg donation has provided gay male couples with the ability to have a child (born by gestational carrier) that will have genetic material from one or both members of the couple.
  5. Unknown.

    If a couple is undergoing fertility treatment and is unsuccessful after a few rounds of IVF, the next recommendation is for the couple to use donor egg treatment.

Egg donors afford couples the opportunity to have a family, regardless of diagnosis or situation. Often, by the time a couple undergoes donor egg treatment, they have already attempted several unsuccessful cycles using their own eggs. Women who donate their eggs offer a piece of hope for those who may feel hopeless.

If you are considering egg donation but have questions about the process, please contact If you would like to apply to become an egg donor, please complete the initial application


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A Team That Cares: Kathy’s Story

At Shady Grove Fertility, we have dedicated our practice to enriching our patients’ lives. To realize this goal, we hire a team that cares and who embodies the values of our practice; exhibiting excellence, integrity, compassion, and commitment. We recently filmed a video with our staff, asking them about their experience being a part of the Shady Grove Fertility family. Kathleen Bugge, BSN, Supervisor, Clinical Education, told us her story:

One of the most disappointing aspects of dealing with infertility is the realization that there is so much out of your control. You can eat healthy, exercise, and do all the ‘right things,’ but it does not mean that it will all work out exactly the way you had planned. I know this disappointment first-hand because I – like so many of our patients – struggled with infertility.

After several years of trying to conceive a second child, my husband and I met with a reproductive endocrinologist not far from our home. The doctor was nice, listened to our story, and after some testing, told us we had male factor infertility. We tried a few IUI cycles, and then spoke about moving on to IVF. The fertility center seemed vague about their statistics though, so I had some reservations and continued to do research on other centers.

While I was searching for information about reproductive medicine, I saw a nursing position advertised at Shady Grove Fertility in Rockville, MD. I thought that in pursuing a clinical nursing position there, I’d get a good education about this disease that was affecting my life. Sure enough, SGF provided me with a wealth of information, and they were transparent about their statistics in a way that my previous treatment center was not. I began treatment at SGF and finally after multiple fertility centers and seven long years of trying, I welcomed my beautiful daughter Molly into the world.

My story of employee-to-patient isn’t unique: several of my colleagues have shared with me that they, too, are current or former patients. I think that going through this experience explains our deep understanding and commitment to each individual patient. We have a level of care and understanding that says I know what you are experiencing, because I have been where you are.

Over the past 20 years, I’ve had the opportunity to help thousands of couples. It has become clear to me that not only did the team I worked with have an emphasis on sharing information and knowledge with patients, but that they also cared deeply about the patients in a way that I have never seen in the medical field. Even when I was a patient, I found it astonishing and also very comforting that my medical team treated my most prized wishes and dreams with the same level of importance that I did.

Recently, Shruti Malik, M.D. joined our medical team. When we first met, we spoke about our initial thoughts of infertility care. She was able to sum up my experiences from the past two decades into one simple thought: “This was the first time as a doctor that I truly felt like a team with my patients. I found that with every patient, we wanted the same things and we were working towards the same goal: a baby.” Our staff and our patients are working together so that our patients can ultimately achieve their dreams.

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to grow and support couples with infertility in ways I could have never imagined. Each year, a group of SGF team members participate in RESOLVE’s Advocacy Day. We carpool down to Capitol Hill to work one-on-one with other infertility advocates, patients, and lawmakers to support the need for continued funding through state-mandated insurance coverage and tax breaks for patients going through infertility. We know that these changes can take years before an impact is felt for all couples struggling with infertility, not just our patients, but in the end, the time and effort is well worth it because we know we will be able to help more people realize their dreams of having a family.

In my time at Shady Grove Fertility, I have been a nurse, a patient, an educator, and an advocate. Many of my fellow employees have also had the benefit of embodying so many roles, while having the opportunity to help so many of our patients. We recently released a video to show our patients how they inspire us and shape our lives, and we would love to share this narrative with you.

A Team That Cares: Careers That Transform Lives

If you would like to learn more about your fertility options or are ready to schedule your appointment, call 1-877-971-7755 or click here.

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