Chinese herbs have been used for approximately 2500 years to treata wide array of health problems. Herbal medicines may enhance fertilityby supporting the natural functions of the ovulation and fertilityprocess.
Herbs are not regulated by the FDA, but are they safe?
Herbs are generally safe to use. However, because some herbs should notbe taken during pregnancy, it is always important to ask your healthcareprovider which herbs are safe to take. For those choosing to use herbs toenhance fertility, it is preferable to consult a healthcare provider whois familiar with herbs and how they affect different aspects of your fertility.
When should herbs not be taken?
One of the purposes of prescribing herbal medicines is to increase ovarianfunction. Therefore, individuals who are taking birth control pills, Antigon/Cetrotideor Lupron should not take herbs. Because these medications are used to impedeor lessen ovarian function they have the opposite desired effect of herbs.
How long should I take herbs?
The effects of herbal medicines are generally cumulative, and the clinicaleffects of treating the infertile couple are usually seen after 60-120 days.Herbs are also cycle-dependent. They require the entire menstrual cycleto be effective, and work best with multiple cycles. This means that if,for instance, a woman decides to have an IVF transfer within a week, sheshould avoid herbal treatment.
What types of infertility can herbal medicines treat?
In general, it is appropriate to treat any type of infertility conditionwith herbal medicines. This includes advanced maternal age, luteal-phase-defect,premature ovarian failure, male factor, or unexplained symptoms. Clinicalobservers have reported impressive results when mixing herbs with gonadotropinsduring IUI and IVF cycles. The herbs seem to enhance the effects of thegonadotropins, and they do not pose the risk of OHSS (ovarian hyper stimulationsyndrome).
Is herbal medicine a licensed profession?
Herbal medicine is not a licensed profession. However, some practitionersacquire available Board certification. It is preferable to consult withhealthcare providers who are Board certified to prescribe herbal medicines.
Where can I purchase herbal supplements?
A number of herbal supplements are available that are helpful in supportingfertility for both women and men. For women, vitex (chasteberry), red cloverand other herbs traditionally used to help restore hormonal balance arecombined with the same vitamins and minerals found in a prenatal vitamin.The combination offers a comprehensive fertility supplement. For men, clinicallyproven supplements are available to help improve sperm parameters such ascount, motility, and morphology.
-Article written by Dr. Mike Berkley on behalf of the APA. Dr. Berkley is an expert on acupuncture, herbal medicines and traditional medicine as means for treating infertility. Dr. Berkley practices at The Berkley Center for Reproductive Wellness.