Can Herbs Boost My Fertility?

Can herbal supplements affect my chances of getting pregnant?
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ByWayne S. Maxson, MD, medical director, reproductive endocrinologist, and founder, IVF Florida Reproductive Associates
Fertility Specialist
Updated
Apr 2019
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When you’re trying to get pregnant, you’re open to all sorts of ways to help smooth the way. Wouldn’t it be great if simply taking some herbal supplements could do the trick? Unfortunately, it’s not that easy — and it could even be dangerous.

The problem is that with many herbal supplements — unlike the pills you might get from a pharmacy shelf — you don’t really know exactly what you are getting or how much of it. There could be more or less of the active ingredient in the pills or powders than in others. There’s even evidence that some common herbs can hinder your chances of getting pregnant. One study found that high concentrations of St. John’s wort inhibited sperm motility (a sperm’s ability to move) and may even kill off a few of those swimmers, while high levels of saw palmetto,  echinacea and ginkgo biloba also slowed down motility one to two days after exposure. And even herbs that may not play a role in your attempt to get pregnant can do more harm than good. Red rice yeast, for example, which is used to help lower high cholesterol levels, is made from the same plant source that statin drugs are derived from. And those drugs are classified Category X for pregnancy, meaning they have been shown to cause birth defects. If you use herbs, take a break during the months that you are trying to conceive, and talk to your doctor about their usage before and during pregnancy.

 

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