Is there a role for vitamin D in human reproduction?

Horm Mol Biol Clin Investig. 2016 Jan;25(1):15-28. doi: 10.1515/hmbci-2015-0051.


Vitamin D is a steroid hormone with canonical roles in calcium metabolism and bone modeling. However, in recent years there has been a growing body of literature presenting associations between vitamin D levels and a variety of disease processes, including metabolic disorders such as diabetes and prediabetes and autoimmune conditions such as thyroid disease. This review focuses on the potential role of vitamin D in both male and female reproductive function. The vitamin D receptor (VDR) is expressed throughout central and peripheral organs of reproduction. VDR is often co-localized with its metabolizing enzymes, suggesting the importance of tissue specific modulation of active vitamin D levels. Both animal and human studies in males links vitamin D deficiency with hypogonadism and decreased fertility. In females, there is evidence for its role in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, leiomyomas, in-vitro fertilization, and pregnancy outcomes. Studies evaluating the effects of replacing vitamin D have shown variable results. There remains some concern that the effects of vitamin D on reproduction are not direct, but rather secondary to the accompanying hypocalcemia or estrogen dysregulation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Endometriosis / etiology
  • Endometriosis / genetics
  • Endometriosis / metabolism
  • Female
  • Fertilization in Vitro
  • Humans
  • Infertility / etiology
  • Infertility / genetics
  • Infertility / metabolism
  • Male
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / etiology
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / genetics
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / genetics
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / metabolism
  • Reproduction*
  • Vitamin D / genetics
  • Vitamin D / metabolism*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / complications
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / genetics
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / metabolism


  • Receptors, Calcitriol
  • Vitamin D