By Mary Sabo, L.Ac. DACM
This is an excerpt from a blog post by Mary for FertilityIQ, a national online resource for assisting couples in finding their best-fit doctor and clinic. For the full post, click here!
When it comes to enhancing fertility with herbs, the claims and possibilities seem endless. It can be frustrating and sometimes difficult to figure out which herbs might be most appropriate and people often end up taking expensive supplements that may or may not be helpful. If possible, it’s wise to work with a qualified practitioner such as an Acupuncturist, Naturopath, or Functional Medicine Doctor to help you discover which herbs are ideal for your case. If you don’t have access to one of these professionals though, that’s ok too. Keep reading! Let’s explore some of the more common and effective herbs that affect fertility and how they may work to give you a more informed perspective and targeted care.
First, let’s be clear that there isn’t one supplement or herb that is going to be helpful for everyone when it comes to fertility. That being said, incorporating targeted herbs in your comprehensive fertility plan can sometimes boost fertility enough to help some couples conceive.
Here are some common herbs that are readily available and can potentially enhance fertility:
Vitex (Chaste Tree Berry)
A popular herb for balancing the menstrual cycle and resolving PMS, it likely acts on the pituitary gland in the brain, increasing the strength of the Luteinizing Hormone (LH) surge, which triggers ovulation. This in turn can strengthen ovulation and progesterone production in the luteal phase. It has also been shown to decrease abnormally high prolactin, thus improving hormone balance and ovarian function . This herb helps women with ovulation problems and women with luteal phase defect who have a short luteal phase or low progesterone production.
Maca (Lepidium meyenii)
Maca has been in use for thousands of years as a libido and fertility enhancing medicinal. It is indigenous to the Peruvian Andes and is a tuber (like a turnip). It acts as an adaptogen, helping the body cope during times of increased stress, but it may also affect androgens (testosterone) in both men and women. It is unclear if it affects actual levels of testosterone or just the receptor, but it has been shown in both male and female mice to affect fertility positively. In light of the effects on testesterone activity, however, this supplement may not be helpful for women with PCOS, which is associated with elevated androgens.