Naturopathic doctors may prescribe natural supplements to increase male and fertility levels, and help women get pregnant. But, many conventional fertility doctors don’t agree that supplements improve infertility! So if a woman wants to get pregnant, what does she do? Does she listen to her fertility doctor with a medical degree — who may lean towards conventional medicine — or does she try alternative methods of treating infertility?
“Infertility can be a difficult problem to treat, and modern interventions – while sometimes effective – can be expensive,” says Dr Mary Gallenberg, of the MayoClinic. “So it’s not surprising that some people look to herbs and supplements as a possible alternative treatment to this vexing problem. However, there’s no compelling evidence for any herbal therapy or supplements as a treatment for infertility.”
To learn more about naturopathic medicine and fertility, read Fertility Wisdom: How Traditional Chinese Medicine Can Help Overcome Infertility. And, here are two perspectives on herbal remedies for women who can’t get pregnant…
What Conventional Medicine Says About Natural Fertility Supplements and Pregnancy
There isn’t a lot of research about fertility herbs and supplements. According to the MayoClinic, some natural supplements that have been studied are:
- L-carnitine for male infertility. One study shows increased sperm motility in men who took a combination of acetyl-L-carnitine and L-carnitine. This resulted in a slight increase in pregnancies among study participants.
- Vitamin E for men with low sperm counts. Men struggling with male infertility who take vitamin E may have a higher rate of fertilization than those taking a placebo, according to one study. However, other studies found no improvement in male fertility when vitamin E is combined with vitamin C or selenium.
- Coenzyme Q10 to improve sperm count or motility. A few studies have suggested that coenzyme Q10 may improve sperm counts or motility. But more research is needed to confirm these findings, and to determine whether natural fertility supplements actually improve infertility.
- Folic acid for increased sperm count or motility. Some studies suggest that, similar to coenzyme Q10, folic acid may improve sperm counts or motility. Further research is eeded in this area as well.
- Vitamin C for women with ovulation disorders. A few small studies have suggested that supplementation with vitamin C may improve fertility in women who have ovulation disorders, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome. Again, however, more research is needed to clarify these findings.
What Alternative Medicine Says About Natural Fertility Supplements and Pregnancy
According to Fairhaven Health, Chasteberry or vitex (vitex agnus-castus) is a fertility-promoting herb that has 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 used 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 conditions, or premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
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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.
Couples who are trying to conceive are now, more than ever, turning to more natural ways of addressing infertility. Scientifically validated, fertility supplements are leading to dramatic increases in conception rates and providing a healthful alternative to conventional infertility treatments such as prescription drugs and/or fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Studies have also shown that relaxation techniques such as (yoga for fertility) can increase chances of conception. There has been a great deal of study on the connection between stress, physiology and conception rates. It’s suggested that yoga helps to lessen stress levels and increase circulation, supporting the movement of blood and important nutrients to the reproductive organs.
So, Can Natural Fertility Supplements Help Women Get Pregnant?
It depends on who you ask! Acupuncturists, naturopathic doctors, hypnotists, and other natural health practitioners say yes, fertility supplements can increase the odds of getting pregnant.
But, conventional health practitioners (fertility doctors with MDs, fertility research scientists, etc) say that fertility supplements aren’t necessarily helpful for couples coping with infertility. In fact, many fertility specialists advise against taking supplements when trying fertility treatments such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF) because the medications and supplements can interact harmfully.
My next article here on “Quips & Tips for Couples Coping With Infertility” will offer tips for deciding if you should take fertility supplements to overcome infertility…so, stay tuned!
If you have any questions or thoughts about natural fertility supplements and getting pregnant, please comment below…