Long before modern medicine developed the drugs and high-tech procedures we’re all familiar with today, practitioners treated many ailments with herbal remedies, including infertility.
If you’re exploring natural supplements as an aid to getting pregnant, make sure to first check with your health care provider, especially if you’re already taking any conventional fertility drugs. In most cases women should not take fertility drugs and herbal supplements at the same time.
Keep in mind that even though herbs are natural substances, they can still have side effects and interactions if you’re taking any prescribed or even over-the-counter medications. Remember also that some popular herbs, including St. John’s Wort and gingko biloba, are even thought to have a potentially negative effect on fertility.
Fertility Boosting Herbs: Which Ones Should I Try?
Some of the herbs that are recommended for boosting fertility are:
- Black Cohosh, an antispasmodic that helps relieve menstrual cramps and may stimulate the ovaries; take it only during the first half of your menstrual cycle and stop after ovulation.
- Evening Primrose Oil, which can improve the quality of cervical mucous; this also should be stopped after ovulation as it could cause uterine contractions which can jeopardize an implanted embryo.
- Vitex Agnus-Castus (also known as Chaste Berry), called the “female herb,” this aids in regulating hormones; it can be safely used at any time in your cycle, but stop if you become pregnant.
- Red Raspberry Leaf strengthens the uterine lining and lengthens the luteal phase of a menstrual cycle, enhancing the possibility of implantation; discontinue use if you become pregnant.
- False Unicorn is a root that has long been used as a female fertility booster and is thought to help regulate the ovaries, but it should not be taken after ovulation or by pregnant women; it is also believed to help relieve male impotence.
Things to Think about when Taking herbs:
Conventional medications, both prescribed and over-the-counter, must undergo rigorous evaluation before being made available to the public – but the same is not true for herbs and other natural supplements. They are often unregulated and can be easily bought in a variety of formulations and strengths.
If you are considering taking fertility boosting herbs, don’t just pull bottles from the pharmacy shelf because you’ve heard that one product or another can be helpful. Find a registered medical herbalist who will take a comprehensive medical history and make herbal choices based on your particular health and fertility issues. Tell him or her about any other drugs you are taking, to avoid any potentially harmful interactions.
Many herbs take a number of weeks or even months to be effective, so it’s difficult to say when or if they’ll have an impact on your fertility. It’s also important to remember that some fertility boosting herbs must be discontinued once a woman becomes pregnant, as they might pose a risk to a developing fetus.
Male Infertility Herb Treatments
Male infertility and low sperm count have been linked to poor diet, smoking and alcohol use, and some believe that fertility can be influenced by environmental toxins. An herbalist can recommend a natural treatment for detoxification, and there are herbs that can be used specifically to enhance male fertility, such as ginseng, which is thought to have a positive impact on sperm motility. Male infertility might be helped by acupuncture as well, which has been shown to improve sperm count, motility and sperm quality. Acupuncture has also been connected to improved conception rates in women who are undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments, but there is no evidence that acupuncture helps with other female fertility problems.