Increasing Fertility with Vitex Agnus Castus
Herbs for helping you become pregnant…
Chasteberry or vitex (vitex agnus-castus) is a fertility-promoting herb with a long, safe history of human use. As far back as ancient Greece, vitex agnus castus was recognized for its herbal-medicinal properties and was utilized for a number of health complaints. The Germans call vitex “Monk’s Pepper” and for centuries women in Europe have used vitex to increase their odds of conceiving a baby, as well as to treat symptoms associated with hormonal imbalance, skin condition, or PMS.
More recently, science has validated the fertility-enhancing properties of this dynamic herb. Vitex has been shown in several clinical studies to help stimulate and stabilize the reproductive hormones involved in ovulation, cycle balance, and menstrual regularity. These studies also document a statistically-significant increase in fertility among women using vitex, with more pregnancies than in control groups using a placebo.
To understand how vitex works, let’s first look at female fertility. In order for conception to take place, a woman must have a regular menstrual cycle and ovulate (release an egg from an ovary). Hormonal balance is key to regular ovulation – particularly the ebb and flow of the reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone, which both prepare the body for ovulation (estrogen) and ensure that a pregnancy, once achieved, is maintained (progesterone). Regularity of both menstrual cycle and ovulatory function, dictated by the complex play of these hormones, are key factors in successfully becoming pregnant. Vitex increases fertility by helping regulate hormonal and menstrual balance. Vitex is a key ingredient in fertility supplement products like FertilAid for Women.
How Does Vitex Promote Cycle Balance?
Vitex or chasteberry is not a hormone; however, vitex works by acting on the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, which in turn secrete hormones or send signals to other parts of the body to trigger the production of reproductive hormones. Vitex has been shown to help increase the level of luteinizing hormone (or LH) while gently suppressing the secretion of FSH (follicle stimulating hormone). In effect, vitex stimulates the hormones involved in ovulation and assists in restoring overall hormonal balance. More specifically, vitex is effective in regulating pituitary gland function and in normalizing the balance of progesterone to estrogen levels. Vitex is particularly supportive in maintaining progesterone levels during the “luteal phase”, or second half, of a woman’s cycle.
A large percentage of menstrual problems and infertility issues are related to insufficient progesterone production during the luteal phase, which can result in a shortened luteal phase and may possibly contribute to PCOS. With regard to the former, a “short” luteal phase is often referred to as corpus luteum insufficiency or LPD (luteal phase defect). Luteal phase defect is characterized by low progesterone levels during the second half of your cycle. With regard to PCOS, hormonal imbalance (namely insufficient levels of progesterone) may also contribute to the formation of cysts on your ovaries, or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. As vitex agnus castus has been shown to support progesterone production, vitex may be suggested as a treatment for menstrual cycle imbalances, luteal phase defect, and possibly PCOS (as normalized progesterone levels and cycle regularity may suppress the development of ovarian cysts associated with estrogen dominance).
Clinical studies now support the fertility-enhancing claims associated with vitex agnus castus – as well as its facility in treating common fertility disorders. In one commonly-cited study, sixty-seven women with fertility or ovulatory disorders were given a vitex agnus castus preparation, which resulted in a marked improvement of progesterone levels during the luteal phase, earlier ovulation, and thirty-eight achieved pregnancies (Bergmann, 2000).
In another study (Milewicz, 1993), vitex agnus castus was administered to hyperprolactinaemia female patients. The use of vitex resulted in reduced prolactin levels, as well as the normalization of luteal phase progesterone levels for women with luteal phase defect. Shortened luteal phases were therefore normalized (lengthened).
An earlier German study by Amann (1982) reveals that vitex exerts a favorable, positive effect on women with amenorrhea (the absence of menstrual cycle or period), further establishing the efficacy of vitex in restoring hormonal balance and cycle regularity. In another clinical trial conducted at Stanford, women with fertility disorders benefited from using a vitex-containing supplement, with more pregnancies in the vitex group than in placebo groups. Each of these studies demonstrates the fertility-enhancing properties of this unique herb.
Vitex is also recognized as a safe herb. It has no known side-effects, and chasteberry can be taken for up to 18 months continuously. When pregnancy is achieved, discontinue use of vitex-containing supplements, as well as any other herbal-nutritional supplements not specifically approved by your doctor. The benefits of vitex will increase over time, and maximum benefits are typically achieved after a few months of use. It is suggested to not take vitex or fertility supplements while you are using prescription fertility drugs.
A fertility supplement like FertilAid contains vitex agnus castus, as well as other key ingredients and complete preconceptional vitamin support. FertilAid for Women