Natural Fertility Herbs For Men And Women: Do They Work?

check_icon Research-backed

Image: Shutterstock

IN THIS ARTICLE

Several people from various cultures utilize and prescribe herbs for enhancing fertility. You may have even heard of “fertility herbs for men and women” being discussed online. However, there is no scientific evidence that they work; therefore, if you plan to use herbs for fertility, consult your doctor or a herbal medicine specialist beforehand.

In this post, we have included a list of herbs that promote fertility in both 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.

There are various fertility herbs for men and women available today. But there is no solid research supporting the facts about how effective these herbs are in enhancing fertility. Therefore, if you are interested in using fertility herbs, you may begin by comprehending the reason and purpose for wanting to use them. Also, it is best to consult a qualified herbalist or naturopath specialist to learn about the functionality of these herbs. Additionally, you may consider maintaining a proper diet, lifestyle, and a sound emotional state before planning on the treatment regimen.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
1. Cheryl Lans et al.; Herbal fertility treatments used in North America from colonial times to 1900, and their potential for improving the success rate of assisted reproductive technology; Reprod Biomed Soc Online. (2018)
2. Dietary Supplements: What You Need to Know; NIH (2011)
3. Bakhtiar Choudhary et al.; Efficacy of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera [L.] Dunal) in improving cardiorespiratory endurance in healthy athletic adults; Ayu. (2015)
4. Dong Quai; NIH (2019)
5. Jackie Greenfield And Jeanine Davis; False Unicorn or Fairy Wand; North Carolina State University (2012)
6. Wild Yam; Sam W. Hitt Medicinal Plant Gardens; The University of North Carolina
7. Chaste Tree: Mother Nature’s Menstruation Remedy; Plant Profiles In Chemical Ecology | The Evergreen State College
8. Herbal extracts; Stetson School of Business and Economics – Mercer University
9. Kar Wah Leung and Alice ST Wong; Ginseng and male reproductive function; Spermatogenesis. (2013)
10. Gustavo F. Gonzales; Ethnobiology and Ethnopharmacology of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a Plant from the Peruvian Highlands; Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. (2012)
11. Mayumi Suzuki et al.; Pharmacological effects of saw palmetto extract in the lower urinary tract; Acta Pharmacol Sin. (2009)
12. James Reedy; Are You Having Problems with your Sex Life? Horny Goat Weed May Be Your Answer; Health Psychology; Vanderbilt University
13. Wonnam Kim et al.; Astragalus membranaceus augment sperm parameters in male mice associated with cAMP-responsive element modulator and activator of CREM in testis; J Tradit Complement Med. (2016)
14. Peter H. C. Lim; Asian herbals and aphrodisiacs used for managing ED; Transl Androl Urol. (2017)
15. Recep Dursun et al.; The protective effect of goji berry extract in ischemic reperfusion in testis torsion; Int J Clin Exp Med. (2015)
16. Goji; NIH (2019)
The following two tabs change content below.

Jacky Bloemraad-de Boer

Jacky Bloemraad-de Boer is a certified professional midwife, traditional Chinese medicine practitioner, doula, nutritionist and herbalist. In 2012 she began JJ Doula Training in Amsterdam and has trained more than 200 doulas. Boer has trained midwives across the globe for a three-year midwifery program that she created. She continues to teach midwifery sciences and complementary medicine for fertility, pregnancy, childbirth... more

Rebecca Malachi

Rebecca is a pregnancy writer and editor with a passion for delivering research-based and engaging content in areas of fertility, pregnancy, birth, and post-pregnancy. She has been into health and wellness writing since 2010. She received her graduate degree in Biotechnology and Genetics from Loyola Academy, Osmania University and obtained a certification in ‘Nutrition and Lifestyle in Pregnancy’ from Ludwig... more