What is melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone that is produced in the pineal gland, at the base of the brain. It is involved in the regulating your natural circadian rhythms of sleep and wakefulness. It is considered a “dietary supplement” by the FDA and is available over the counter at pharmacies and vitamin stores.
What is melatonin used for?
Many people find melatonin useful to help them sleep and take a pill (typically 3 mg) at bedtime. It is often helpful for insomnia, for those with unusual work schedules, overcoming jet lag and to help blind people who do not experience the light and dark cycles. It has also been tried for a number of other medical and psychiatric disorders.
Why would melatonin affect fertility?
Melatonin has been known for sometime to the influence reproduction in some animals so it is not a long shot to think it might affect humans. In one study, they found that the follicular fluid, the liquid that surrounds the eggs and is extracted during an IVF procedure, contains high levels of melatonin.
Is there any evidence the melatonin may help?
There is some research that show eggs retrieved from IVF are more likely to fertilize, produce higher quality better looking embryos, and are more likely to implant. The problem with these studies is that oftentimes they are given along with other supplements (folic acid, inositol and antioxidants) that have been shown to help fertility. Also, just taking a pill or supplement that you think will help you, will help even if it does not contain any active ingredients. That is called the placebo effect. The bottom line is that we do not know.
What about melatonin for men?
There is some evidence that melatonin may lower sperm counts and motility (the percent of sperm that are swimming). For that reason, it is a good idea for men trying to father children to avoid taking melatonin.