Can Herbal Supplements Help me Conceive?
As every woman and man is unique, it’s impossible to answer this question with a definitive or resounding “YES”. However, a quickly growing body of research and data suggests that fertility supplements can, in many instances, help women and men conceive by promoting physiological/endocrine functions like hormonal balance or sperm development. At the same time, couples should be very selective in choosing fertility herbs or herbal supplements and they should follow label or naturopath/doctor instruction (e.g., discontinue use when directed; not combining supplements with prescription fertility drugs, etc).
Recently, a number of promising clinical studies have suggested that fertility supplements can indeed enhance fertility – and more informal “success stories” abound in online preconception communities.
Most recent in the “fertility news”, FertilAid for Men has been shown to increase total amount of normal-motile sperm and overall sperm counts. Key ingredients in the FertilAid formula include a spectrum of antioxidants and the amino acid, l-carnitine. These nutrients are included to protect the sperm from oxidizing free radicals and to boost internal metabolic function for sperm vitality and strength. This equates to a increased sperm counts, a greater number of motile sperm, and a larger percentage of “normally” shaped sperm.
In 2004, a study in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine suggested that herbal ingredients like vitex agnus castus, green tea extract, and L-arginine may support female fertility, or at least provide support for women with infertility symptoms like cycle imbalance or ovulation irregularities. In this study, the above ingredients were combined with vitamins and minerals, and of the fifteen women who used the fertility mixture, five became pregnant within five months. Of the equal number of women in the control group (taking a sugar pill), none had conceived in the same time interval. All of the women participating in the study were documented with having difficulties in achieving a pregnancy prior to the study.
Supplements like FertilAid or Fertility Blend (Women’s formulas) both contain vitex (or chasteberry) and offer vitamin/mineral support. Chasteberry has long been a fertility favorite in herbal medicinal circles. However, other recent studies in North America and Europe do suggest that vitex can help regulate the menstrual cycle and bring reproductive hormones like progesterone into balance, which is a clear predictor for successful conception. Studies coming from the Federal Republic of Germany tend to verify these findings, showing that vitex may indeed help women ovulate and conceive.
While some cycle irregularity may be supported by fertility supplements, if you have been actively TTC for over a year without success, it is advised to consult your doctor regarding possible issues and, in the case of any kind of diagnosis, the best treatment path for you.