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Read Original Story

Fertility supplements may help some women conceive

Rating

4 Star

Fertility supplements may help some women conceive

Our Review Summary

Getting pregnant is harder than most women realize, but that doesn’t mean that if it takes time, there is something wrong that must be treated or dealt with. Furthermore, conception is a serendipitous process that isn’t fully under our control, although you wouldn’t know that from the myriad of products available. In the US, fertility treatment is a big business.

This story describes one type of supplement for fertility support that includes a wide variety of ingredients. The story quotes many of the claims made on the company’s website but injects some amount of healthy skepticism.

This relatively short story includes valuable information, such as the availability and cost of the supplements. It provides details on one study evaluating the supplement but could have commented on whether these results have been validated by other studies. It quantifies the results of that one study but is careful not to make claims that the supplements improve fertility by X or Y%, which is appropriate given how small the study was.

The story quotes more than one expert, one who works for the company and one who does not.  This independent source is crucial in this story and provides much-needed perspective.

The story could have been improved by describing alternative options, other than to "see a doctor". For example, monitoring ovulation, quitting smoking and drinking, maintaining a healthy weight and managing stress and depression may help. Furthermore, the story does not mention any harms of the supplement, known or unknown. Even if the harms are not known, the story should have highlighted that. Side effects of chasteberry, an active ingredient in the supplements, can include nausea, headaches, GI disturbances, and menstrual cycle irregularities.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Satisfactory

The story clearly states the cost of the supplements.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

The story quantifies the results of the one small study but is careful not to make claims that the supplements improve fertility by X or Y%

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention any harms of the supplement, known or unknown. Even if the harms are not known, the story should have highlighted that. Side effects of chasteberry can include nausea, headaches, GI disturbances, and menstrual cycle irregularities.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Satisfactory

The story provides details on one study using the supplement. The story could have commented on whether these results have been validated by other studies.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The story rightly points out that conception is a "mysterious business" in that it is not fully understood nor do we have control over it.  Most women take a while to get pregnant, even up to a year is not considered abnormal. However, the story could do women who are worried about this more of a service by reminding them that variation in time to conceive is normal and they should not run out and get supplements right away.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Satisfactory

The story quotes more than one expert, one who was involved with the study and one who was not.  The independent source is crucial in this story.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not describe alternative options, other than to "see a doctor". For example, monitoring ovulation, quitting smoking and drinking, maintaining a healthy weight and managing stress and depression may help.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

The story clearly states that the supplements are available on the company website, though it isn’t clear whether they are available elsewhere.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

Clearly supplements for fertility are not a new idea.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Satisfactory

The fact that an independent source has a key voice in the story shows that it did not rely solely on a news release.

Total Score: 8 of 10 Satisfactory

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