Much of the focus regarding MTHFR and infertility is around women’s nutrition. Today, however, we have an exciting guest post from Australian Naturopath, Carolyn Ledowsky, which reminds us of the very important fact that men matter too! Please note that this blog is open on an ongoing basis to health professionals who would like to share their knowledge with others about MTHFR and MTHFR-related wellness topics. Please read about the guest post program to learn more.
I’m in the throes of researching for my new online preconception course and have come across some powerful new research on the MTHFR gene, recurrent pregnancy loss and the male partner’s role in this serious condition.
And while each partner plays an equal role in fertility, I’d love a dollar for each woman that I see for fertility with a male partner at home believing preconception care isn’t something he needs to worry about or be involved in.
The DNA of your future child is 50 percent male and female right?
A new study completed at the end of 2015 highlights the importance of the dad’s MTHFR gene status when it comes to miscarriage risk.
This review analyzed over 25,000 mums, dads and bubs and looked at the relationship between the mums’ MTHFR status, dads’ MTHFR status and the babies’ MTHFR status. Results showed BOTH the MTHFR C677T and the A1298C gene in the mum AND dad were associated with recurrent pregnancy Loss (RPL).
Interestingly there was a higher percentage of miscarriage when the baby had a homozygous A1298C mutation, making the dad’s MTHFR status just as important as mum’s. In fact the researchers concluded that they found “a significant association between paternal MTHFR C677T and A1298C polymorphisms and RPL.”
We all know how devastating a miscarriage can be, particularly when couples experience them repeatedly. RPL, which involves more than two miscarriages in a row before the 20-week mark, affects one to five percent of couples worldwide.
So what do we take out from this new study?
We take note!
Both our potential mum and dad need to be tested for the MTHFR gene months prior to trying to fall pregnant. This review shows us that if a baby is homozygous for the MTHFR gene mutation there is a higher risk of miscarriage, particularly with the A1298C variant.
Both mum and dad need to be taking prenatal supplements to ensure optimal folate levels. Remember that folate is what ensures you have good DNA and provides the key ingredient to ensure a fetus develops in the early stages. So there is no point in just the woman taking folate because the DNA in the sperm is just as susceptible to damage from low folate levels as the woman’s egg.
Low folate is associated with:
- Neural Tube Defects like Spina bifida
- Low sperm quality
- Clotting disorders that affect the nutrients going from mum to the baby via the placenta
- Low birth rate
- Down syndrome
- Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL – as we are talking about today)
So is it worth the risk? Why is this even a debate? Why doesn’t the general medical community just say ok, I’m taking note of the new study and I’m going to switch what I’m going to give my patients with the MTHFR gene? Is it political? Is it because the suppliers of folic acid are pushing back? I hope not.
So what can you do?
Primarily, ensure both partners are tested and supplement with active folate in prenatal/ fertility formulas for a healthy preconception period before attempting to conceive.
For those doctors out there that say to you there is no association between the A1298C and miscarriage risk, please send them the link to this paper, which is at the bottom of the page.
For those doctors that tell you to take folic acid, then YOU will need to educate them, as this is the question I seem to be asked most. “I know that I shouldn’t be taking folic acid but how do I tell my doctor that?”
Here is a paper that I wrote last year on the difference between folic and methylfolate. It has the references in it so you can download it and give it to your doctor.
But basically the message is not that folic acid doesn’t work, but that it’s synthetic, man made and has no metabolic activity in the body until the body processes it. So if you have issues with processing then it’s going to be underutilized and build up.
Also the folate receptor sitting on the surface of the cell will prefer to bind to folic acid, so keeping out our good folate from food. Why would we use something that’s not biologically active when we have other options? 5-MTHF, the active folate, will bypass any MTHFR gene mutation and supply the important methyl groups we need to help our cells get this active folate. In preconception there really should be no argument here.
What never ceases to amaze me is how much research people with the MTHFR gene have had to do. You are the ones driving this change, not the doctors, not the specialists – your need to know more and ask questions are what is driving this increase in awareness and change in folate.
So keep up the good work. Keep searching and we’ll keep giving you the ammunition you need.
If you would like to learn more, you can join my FREE course on the top 10 tips on how to prepare for pregnancy with MTHFR by clicking here.
About Carolyn Ledowsky, ND
Carolyn Ledowsky is a MTHFR expert and founder of MTHFR Support Australia, a clinic dedicated to supporting those with MTHFR and methylation related disturbances. She holds a Bachelor of Herbal Medicine, Bachelor of Naturopathy and Diploma of Nutrition, having also studied courses in genetics at Duke University and The University of Maryland.
She is a regular speaker at MTHFR events and provides both patient and practitioner training through her many webinars, presentations and on-line learning environments. You can join one of her weekly ‘MTHFR in Preconception’ webinars by clicking here.
Carolyn now sees patients with MTHFR mutations and/or associated methylation disturbances, which then go on to affect fertility, thyroid, adrenals, hormones, detoxification, energy and neurotransmitters. Her expertise is in understanding these highly complex biochemical pathways, and how individual genetic presentations give rise to dysfunction is her main focus.
Join Carolyn on social media via the links below:
MTHFR Support Australia Facebook
MTHFR Support Australia Pinterest
Hi Carolyn, do you recommend any pre conception supplements for Men? Thank you!
My husband carries the MTHFR mutation and I do not. Can that still cause abnormalities, for instance birth defects, in our children?
Great article. Lots of important information I haven’t been able to find anywhere else. So here’s my story (short version)… I’ve suffered from RPL for many many years. We now have an Egg Donor. We’re using my husband’s sperm. I will carry the baby. The really crazy thing is that we ALL 3 tested positive for a MTHFR mutation. Our Donor has 1 mutation of A1298C. My husband has 1 mutation of C677T. And I have a “double” mutation – I’m a homozygous A1298C mutant! So we are assuming our risk of miscarriage with our current Egg Donor is high? Since our Donor has the A1298C mutation and my husband has the C677T mutation, the fetus could end up with both mutations. Does that increase risk of miscarriage? Or just homozygous mutation? Also, since I will be carrying the baby, where/how does my homozygous A1298C mutation come into play? This is so overwhelming. Hope you can help make a little more sense of it for us!
Hi Darlene – thanks for reaching out and congrats on figuring out a path forward for starting your family. I’m not a doctor. Here is what I can share, just based on my knowledge, no guarantees of any outcomes for any of you. Generally the largest issue with these mutations is folate depletion, which can lead to hormone imbalance, birth defects, etc. That’s IF your genes are expressing, and IF you don’t get the nutrition you need. If you are all taking the active form of folate, active forms of B12 (see this article for more information), there are ways to go around the mutation. The issue seems to be mostly with consuming synthetic folic acid, and the body not being able to get enough of the nutrient because it lacks the enzyme that breaks down the versions of folate and others into something your body can use. This is very high level. I encourage you all to work with a practitioner who is knowledgeable in this area, because I’m sure you are spending a lot of resources on making this pregnancy happen and work. You want the healthiest outcomes for all concerned. Good luck and wishing you all the best!
My husband and I both have homozygous MTHFR and I have found a great prenatal vitamin specifically for MTHFR mutations. I’m not able to find a men’s fertility vitamin with folate instead of folic acid, can you please provide any recommendations? Thank you!
Hi Laura – I had my husband take the Seeking Health Optimal vitamin – it’s pretty comprehensive. Good luck!
Thanks Andrea! I just ordered the Optimal Multivitamin for him. I hope it works!
Enlyte has all the co-factors and micronutrients that is needed to bypass the polymorphism that is the MTHFR variant. The first attempt was Deblin with L-methylfolate Calcium, Enlyte has L-methylfolate magnesium which is twice as soluble.
Thanks William! From what I can tell, this is a prescription vitamin?
William J Shryer
Yes this is a prescription vitamin like a prenatal as it contains a small amount of elemental iron. It is a prescription so it is FDA approved and is not a medical food so it is covered by insurance policies. It is the comprehensive approach with all the needed cofactors to address the MTHFR polymorphism in the most comprehensive manner. See EnlyteRx.com
I would like a test kit since we live in the middle of orchards in Yakima, WA, a major fruit producer.
We have a well and I’ve been curious as to what is in my water since they spray typically 20 times a season.
The more we learn about folate and methylation the more we find we need to know. From fertility to cardiac conditions, anxiety and depression, memory and concentration, folate metabolism is so crucial for our health. Why don’t our physicians have better training in this important area while those in countries with national health insurance are all over this? We use and recommend a newer prescription agent called Enlyte. This is not a medical food and is covered by many insurance plans. Our group has been very pleased by the response many patients with depression have experienced using this over Deplin.
Hi, my son has double MTHFR C677T. He doesn’t see the need to take any type of L-methylfolate, but I feel if he and his wife want kids, that he should be taking something. Should he be to ensure the health of his children?
In my professional opinion yes. Homozygous MTHFR mutations typically mean a lack of folate and reduced glutathione. Both of these are really important precursors to fertility. If he wants to find out more, I have a FREE webinar each month where he can listen, ask questions and be interactive. It might help him and his partner decide what to do. You can access this by going to http://www.mthfrsupport.com.au/preconception/ . There is also a free recording for a previous one if he wants to listen. Knowledge is power!
I hope you convinced him as it is crucially important. Not to do so is selfish and short sighted.
I just discovered I have MTHFR C677T so now it makes sense with my first pregnancy that I developed Preeclampsia and Diabetes mid-term.
But years later, with my second husband and second pregnancy, none of that happened to me.
So it must be related also to the father. I don’t understand that at all. Can anyone explain this?
I’m not sure what your exact MTHFR C677T presentation is but lets say you are heterozygous and your previous partner was homozygous. Then you would have had a 50% chance of the baby being homozygous. Homozygous babies together with MTHFR mums not supplementing with active folate, put you and the baby more at risk. So if your second husband had no mutation then the risk becomes much less . The father is responsible for 50% of the baby’s DNA. Different genes, different hormones, different pregnancy.
the problem is that Enlyte has folic acid and the more research I do the more I believe its not the right thing to be using. Just came across a really recent study that shows that folic acid at 5mg dose decreases sperm DNA methylation which can then be passed onto the baby. If it can do that in the sperm then why not the egg as well? We need DNA methylation for preconception more than any time.
MTHFR is such an important area. In the area of integrative psychiatry which is the use of nutraceuticals such as L methylfolate with cofactors the change in people with depression and most importantly women with postpartum depression or the “baby blues” often have an MTHFR polymorphism needing supplementation with a good product for true health and well being. Few things are more important for the baby than a mum in good emotional helath for growth and development. We use a product called Enlyte that has all the co-factores needed for proper methylation which leads to the production of serotonin and dopamine and other neurotransmitters. Real health is also education and taking responsibility for ones own health.
Great website, keep up the good work!