Startup WeNatal launches prenatal for men and women
WeNatal, a new supplement company, recently announced the launch of a prenatal supplement system designed for both women and men.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the general fertility rate for the United States in 2020 was 55.8 births per 1,000 women aged 15–44, down 4% from the rate in 2019 (58.3), another record low for the nation. From 2014 to 2020, it declined by an average of 2% per year.
Despite men being half of the equation, male health and sperm quality has not been historically addressed in preconception. WeNatal said with fertility rates and healthy pregnancy outcomes at an all-time low, the company wants to transform prenatal care with a couples-centric approach.
From me to we
“Culturally and historically women carry the burden of fertility and infertility, but we wanted to shift the conversation from ME to WE - this is why WeNatal was born. Men are not part of the mainstream conversation, yet they account for approximately 40-50% of infertility and pregnancy health,” said WeNatal co-founder Ronit Menashe.
When Menashe and her co-founder both experienced their own pregnancy losses, they said that’s when it became clear that their husbands' health was being ignored.
“Ronit and I have been best friends for over 15 years. After miscarrying one week apart, we both began to dig into the research not wanting to just accept that ‘miscarriages just happen.’ We were stunned to find a lot of studies around the importance of sperm health and realized we were completely ignoring our husbands’ health. We learned how easy it is to improve sperm and initially sought out to make the best possible male prenatal supplement, but as we started to look into the ones we wanted to take ourselves, we also realized that the women’s prenatal,” said WeNatal co-founder Vida Delrahim. “We saw a huge gap in the marketplace and an opportunity to create the next generation of prenatals for him AND her.”
The WeNatal formula was developed by a team of Functional Medicine doctors, nutritionists, and fertility experts, including physician and author Dr. Mark Hyman, functional medicine and ancestral health educator Chris Kresser, along with holistic and celebrity nutritionist, Kelly LeVeque.
According to the company, WeNatal for Him provides comprehensive, evidenced-based levels of vitamins and minerals, including: Selenium, Vitamin A, C, D, E, CoQ10, and NAC. The formulation aims to supports maintenance of healthy sperm count, shape, and motility; help boost testosterone levels and sperm production; and promote immune system function and overall reproductive health.
“WeNatal for Him is essentially a high dose antioxidant blend. Sperm is damaged by oxidative stress and studies looking at antioxidants and sperm quality show that nutrients like L-carnitine, vitamins C and E, N-acetylcysteine, zinc, and coenzyme Q10 improve the chance of their partner conceiving by over 4 times and a 5 times higher chance of a live birth compared to men not taking antioxidants at all,” explained Menashe.
She added that WeNatal for Her includes clinically proven levels of nutrients, including methylated B vitamins, 550mg of choline, 4,000IU of vitamin D, Vitamin A, C, E, selenium, iron, and copper. These ingredients aim to promote egg quality and overall reproductive health; support proper development and healthy birth for mom and baby; and provide nutritional support from preconception through nursing.
“A lot of prenatals use the synthetic form of folate known as folic acid, which is not absorbable by 40% of pregnant women due to genetic variations (MTHFR) - Folate and other B vitamins should be Methylated so everyone can absorb them. Vitamins such as folate are not only critical in preventing birth defects, but also make it easier to get pregnant by restoring ovulation and boosting egg quality,” said Menashe.
She explained that when they were finalizing the formula, they upped the dosage of vitamin D from 3000 IUs to 4000 IUs since new research came out to show that 4000 IUs is more effective in a prenatal. “Vitamin D helps reduce the risk of miscarriage, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, low birth weight, pre-term birth, and postpartum depression.”
The formula also contains extra iron and choline. “Iron needs double during pregnancy to help make more blood to supply oxygen to the baby. Both Vida and I were deficient in iron and we had to take an extra supplement on top of our prenatals, so we wanted to make it easier on the moms out there,” said Menashe. “Research shows that at least 450mg/day [of choline] is needed during pregnancy and 550mg/day during lactation, which drove the decision to add the 550mg. Our prenatal is the only one on the market that has 550mg of choline."
Delrahim told NutraIngredients-USA that the response has been very positive. “Some of the feedback we’ve received is how inclusive our options are and how they support all family types. (for him, for her, and bundles that include him + him, her + her and him + her). Couples are sharing how much they love being each other's accountability partner and doing it together. Women are so grateful to be getting the nutrient density of 8 pills in only 3 capsules per day and men are excited they can do more to optimize the health of their future children and also feeling more energized and focused on WeNatal.”
Delrahim said the company’s mission is to reimagine the gender paradigms around pregnancy. "Co-parenting has to start at the very beginning. We believe we are better, stronger, and healthier together."