Natural Fertility Herbs For Men And Women: Do They Work?
Herbs are often used and recommended for boosting fertility by several people across cultures, but there is no scientific evidence on their effectiveness. Therefore, if you are planning to use any herbs for fertility, talk to your doctor or a specialist in herbal medicine.
Here, MomJunction gives you a list of herbs that are believed to improve fertility in men and women.
Can Herbs Cure Infertility?
There is no conclusive evidence to say that herbs cure infertility. However, they have been used in many cultures to support reproductive health and fertility. Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines still encourage the use of some herbs and herbal blends to support hormonal balance and fertility cycles. Some herbs were also used in combination with in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intrauterine insemination (IUI) (1).
FDA Does Not Regulate Herbal Supplements. Are They Safe To Take?
Herbal supplements have limited US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation. They are not subjected to the same scientific scrutiny and are not regulated as much as medications. Therefore, herbs and herbal supplements, though marked ‘natural,’ may still have side effects (2).
Always check with an experienced herbalist or naturopath before trying any herbs.
Do Herbal Medicine Practitioners Own Licenses Or Registrations?
Herbal medicine practice is not usually a licensed profession. But some providers take up a regional or national board certification. To stay safe, consult a practitioner who has a certification.
Fertility Herbs Used For Women
The herbs mentioned here and their effect on fertility have primarily been sourced from the book ‘Do You Want To Have A Baby: Natural Fertility Solutions And Pregnancy Care’ by Sarah Abernathy and Linda Page.
1. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
Also referred to as ayurvedic rasayana or rejuvenator, ashwagandha is believed to aid fertility. It is said to enhance the endocrine system, thus regulating the adrenal and thyroid glands, which may help balance the reproductive hormones. Ashwagandha is also believed to strengthen the ovaries, uterus, and the immune system (3).
2. Red raspberry (Rubus idaeus)
Red Raspberry is said to have properties for enhancing fertility naturally. It is a nutritive, astringent herb that might support uterine tissues. In some cases, it may lead to loose stools and nausea.
3. Red clover (Trifolium pretense)
It has plant estrogens that may help boost fertility in women with estrogen deficiency. It may also help in correcting fallopian tube scarring due to its anti-inflammatory properties, is believed to regulate an irregular menstrual cycle, and can be a supportive herb in unexplained infertility.
Red clover is contraindicated in pregnancy and breastfeeding. So, if you believe you have conceived, stop drinking it. It is also contraindicated in conditions such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids due to its estrogen-like properties.
4. Dong Quai (Angelica Sinensis)
Extensively used in Chinese medicine, this herbal medicine is said to regulate menstruation and ovulation, clear stagnation of blood (a major cause of infertility), and assist in toning the uterus (4). Do not take this along with blood-thinning medications. Stop using when affected by diarrhea, excessive menstrual flow, or hemorrhagic conditions.
5. False unicorn (Chamalerium luteum)
Although this herb is used for fertility, you should use it only when a qualified herbalist or midwife prescribes it.
It can act as a uterine tonic to reduce pelvic congestion. It may regulate menstruation and strengthen the uterine lining. Large dosages could lead to gastrointestinal problems such as nausea and vomiting (5).
6. Wild yam (Dioscorea villosa)
Traditional Chinese herbalists use wild yam to bring warmth to a cold, stagnant uterus and to allow more free-flowing Qi (life force) to the body and female reproductive system.
It is used as an aphrodisiac in some medical practices (6). You may have to use it before ovulation, i.e., the first half of the menstrual cycle. This herb is not advised if you have a history of estrogen-responsive cancers.
7. Vitex (Chaste tree)
This herb is believed to normalize the ovulation process by stimulating the luteinizing hormone and minimizing the release of the follicle-stimulating hormone. Vitex is also thought to balance the estrogen and progesterone production in the body (7).
Vitex is a slow-acting herb supporting the body’s own hormone cycle rather than supplying any hormones itself. It should not be used along with prescription medications containing hormones.
8. Black cohosh (Cimicifuga spp)
The toning herb is believed to help prolapsed uterus and fibroids. It might increase the estrogen levels in the body, which may minimize the chances of miscarriage in the early stages of pregnancy (8). Overdosage of this herb can lead to upset stomach and vomiting.
9. Stinging nettle
This herb is thought to nourish and tone the uterus while strengthening the kidneys and adrenal glands. It is also loaded with chlorophyll (acts as detoxifier), which might assist in preparing your body for conception and pregnancy. However, there is no science supporting the use of this herb for fertility.
10. Motherwort (Leonurus cardiac)
This herb is believed to stimulate the uterus and improve the uterine tone. It is also thought to bring on the menstrual cycle that may be delayed due to stress or anxiety. There is no research though, to explain its effect on fertility.
Fertility Herbs Used For Men
Fertility herbs are believed to help men overcome low sperm count, normalize sperm quality and quantity, libido, and other fertility problems.
11. Damiana (Turnera diffusa)
This is believed to have libido-promoting properties, which may be helpful for both men and women. It might help restore reproductive health and treat premature ejaculation or impotence.
12. American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius)
This herb is said to tone and nourish the male reproductive system and treat impotence. It is known to improve sperm count, motility, and testosterone concentration too (9). Avoid combining it with blood-thinning medications.
13. Peruvian Maca (Lepidium meyenii)
Peruvian Maca is believed to improve libido, sperm count, and motility. It is an active endurance enhancer and may rectify erectile dysfunction (10). It might stimulate energy and should not be taken before bedtime.
14. Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens)
It has been traditionally used for improving prostate health, low libido, and impotence. It might also build and tone the male reproductive system too (11). However, you should not take it in combination with any other fertility or PCOS medications.
15. Tribulus (Tribulus terretris)
It is said to help strengthen the reproductive system in both men and women. It may improve sperm count, motility, and erectile dysfunction. Note that it may interfere with heart and blood pressure medications.
16. Horny goat weed (Epimedium grandiflorum)
The herb has been traditionally used for treating impotence. It is believed to improve the testosterone levels, stimulate sensory nerves, and boost healthy sperm production (12). Long-term use might lead to vomiting, nausea, headaches, thirst and dry mouth, breathing difficulties, and episodic spasms.
17. Astragalus (Astragalus propinquus)
It might help in boosting immunity and improving sperm quality and motility (14) (13). The most common side effect of this herb is diarrhea. It may also influence blood sugar levels and blood pressure.
18. Yohimbe (Pausinystalia yohimbe)
The bark is believed to support healthy circulation in the reproductive organs. It might, therefore, be used to treat erectile dysfunction and improve libido (14). Avoid using in case of low blood pressure; it can be toxic in high dosages.
19. Goji berry (Lycium barbarum)
The dried Goji fruit might protect sperm from overheating (hyperthermia), thus helping preserve sperm quality and quantity. It may also support hormonal balance by supporting liver functioning (15). Avoid goji berries if your blood sugar and blood pressure levels are low, as they can further drop them (16).
20. Schisandra berry (Schisandra chinensis)
This herb is believed to help in enhancing the sperm production. There is also a belief that it may increase enzyme production and the levels of glycogen, which might be essential for gonad and kidney health. However, there are no scientific studies to support these claims.
Consult a naturopath or herbalist or midwife for guidance before trying any of these fertility herbs. Most medical doctors, however, do not suggest herbs as treatments.
If you want to use fertility herbs, start by understanding why you need them and what your goal is. Consult a reliable herbalist or naturopath to understand how these herbs work. Then plan your budget and analyze how long you can commit to the treatment. You should also consider your diet, lifestyle, and emotional state, as they can impact your fertility levels.
Did you use any of these herbs for fertility? If yes, then how did they help you? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below.