If you are trying to get pregnant, you may be wondering if there are any natural ways to induce ovulation or boost your fertility. While there may not be any supplements out there that are specifically marketed as Clomid substitutes, some people believe that soy isoflavones may be just that.
How Clomid works
To understand how soy isoflavones are similar to Clomid, it is helpful to understand how Clomid works. Clomid is not estrogen but it has a similar structure to estrogen. Clomid binds to the estrogen receptor cells in the hypothalamus and blocks them. With the estrogen receptor cells blocked, your brain doesn’t get the signal from the estrogen.
Now you really do not have low levels of estrogen, your body just thinks you do. Why is this important? Estrogen is released from your follicles as they mature. If your follicles are not mature you can’t ovulate. So, what Clomid does when it blocks your estrogen receptors is confuse your body into thinking you need more FSH.
GNRH stimulates the production of FSH. When estrogen levels are low, GNRH production picks up. GNRH stimulates FSH and FSH stimulates your follicles. Then as your follicles mature they release estrogen. Once estrogen reaches a certain point, your body will release another hormone called LH which triggers ovulation.
Since FSH is the hormone that causes your follicles to grow and mature, if Clomid can confuse your body into producing more FSH, it will hopefully induce or improve ovulation.
What makes soy isoflavones similar to Clomid?
Soy isoflavones are phytoestrogens known as SERMs, or Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators. Clomid is also a SERM. Some people believe that soy isoflavones function in the same way to block estrogen receptors as Clomid.
Researchers have found that soy isoflavones weakly bind to estrogen receptors. This evidence may support the idea that soy isoflavones can work as a natural ovulation inducer like Clomid. But, there has not been sufficient data to safely say that soy isoflavones can or should be used to induce ovulation.
Soy Isoflavones dosage for ovulation induction
In order for soy isoflavones to work in a similar manner as Clomid, they should be taken in a similar manner. Clomid is not taken throughout a woman’s cycle. Instead, it is given for about five days at the start of a woman’s cycle. The standard guidelines for Clomid are to take it either on cycle days 3-7 or 5-9. Most women taking soy isoflavones to induce ovulation take around 150-200 mg a day on cycle day 3 -7 or 5-9. Since there are no scientific studies on the effects of soy isoflavones and ovulation, these are just general guidelines. You should not, however, take this dosage throughout your cycle as it may impede ovulation if taken through your entire cycle.
There is also some data that suggests high levels of soy isoflavones may have damaging effects on the thyroid. If you have a thyroid condition you may want to avoid taking soy isoflavones.
Can soy isoflavones cause infertility?
While there is some evidence that soy isoflavones may work in a similar manner to Clomid, there is also research that suggests that high levels of soy consumption can decrease fertility. This may be because of the way soy isoflavones bind to estrogen receptor cells. Some soy isoflavones may work as an estrogen blocker but others may mimic estrogen. There is not enough research to adequately say how taking soy isoflavones, particularly if taken daily will affect your fertility.