In 2002 2.1 million heterosexual women aged 15-49 were infertile, and this is about 1 in 5 women, according to the CDC. Infertility is the failure to achieve a pregnancy after 12 months of frequent intercourse without contraception in women under 35. For women 35 years and older, providers will diagnose infertility or a failure to conceive after six months of intercourse without contraception. Women who have pelvic pain, previous pelvic surgery, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), endometriosis, history of cancer chemotherapy and cancer radiation should be evaluated earlier.
Herbs can be wonderful hormone modulators assisting in hormone regulation and increased fertility. The following three herbs can modulate hormones to improve fertility and increase the chances of achieving conception.
Chaste Tree (Vitex Agnus Castus)
Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus, Lamiaceae) berry is used for a broad scope of female reproductive conditions, including premenstrual syndrome (PMS), cyclical breast pain, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD; severe PMS), lactation difficulties, infertility, and menopause-related symptoms. Chaste Tree stimulates the release of luteinizing hormone (LH) from the pituitary gland. The result is an indirect ability to raise or modulate progesterone levels, which will assist in ovulation. Vitex can increase progesterone in the second half of the cycle, helping to promote ovulation. Chaste Tree also modulates the secretion of prolactin from the pituitary gland, and in one study, prolactin decreased while shortened luteal phases and progesterone deficits were normalized.
Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga Racemosa)
Like Chaste Tree, Black Cohosh can also stimulate pituitary secretion of LH, leading to ovulation and subsequent production of progesterone by the corpus luteum. Black cohosh has been demonstrated to have an estrogen-like effect on the central nervous system and, therefore, may induce ovulation in women with PCOS. Black cohosh may also be productive for women in their 40s, whose FSH levels may increase as the ovary ages.
Rhodiola (Rhodiola Rosea)
Classically labeled as an adaptogen due to its ability to increase resistance to stressors, Rhodiola is used to reduce depression, enhance performance, improve sleep, and reduce fatigue. Rhodiola may have beneficial effects in treating stress-induced reproductive dysfunction, assisting in normalizing hormone levels. Rhodiola has also been shown to enhance thyroid function and enhance egg maturation without causing hyperthyroidism in animal studies.
Chaste Tree, Black Cohosh, and Rhodiola should all be considered therapeutic options for individuals looking to improve their fertility. These herbs also exhibit other desirable effects, such as improving cardiovascular function and decreasing risks for particular hormone-linked cancers. To show maximal effects, hormone modulation may take 3-5 months of consistent intake.
• https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/infertility/index.htm (https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/infertility/index.htm)
• Black Cohosh Stimulates Ovulation Induction in Women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Kamel HH. Role of phyto-oestrogens in ovulation induction in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. May 2013;168(1):60-63.
• B.G. Kadioglu, B. Gundogdu, N. Kurt, A. Ozbek Bilgin, H. Suleyman, Z. Suleyman. The effect of rhodiola rosea root extract on stress-induced ovarian damage, infertility and reproductive disorders in female rats. Clinical and Experimental Obstetrics & G
. 2020;47(4):530-536. doi:10.31083/j.ceog.2020.04.5428