More than 2 million couples in the United States suffer from infertility. In 40 percent of cases, the woman is the infertile partner. The male is the infertile partner in another 40-plus percent. The remaining couples suffer from both partners being unable to form a baby. A diagnosis of infertility is made when a couple tries to conceive for one year without success.
Coping with infertility can be like an exhausting, expensive, roller coaster which shakes parents to their cores. Each family must choose the path to parenthood which is right for them. Some couples opt to enhance their likelihood of conception by employing lifestyle changes and utilizing herbs.
Causes of infertility
Infertility is caused by many factors. Hormonal imbalances and structural abnormalities of the reproductive systems of men and women contribute to infertility. Men may not be producing enough sperm or sperm may not be viable when they reach the egg. Women may suffer from irregular menses or not produce enough progesterone. Poor nutrition, obesity and medical illnesses contribute to infertility, as well.
Too much estrogen is a barrier to conception
Men and women may be overexposed to estrogen. Plastics, chemicals in the environment, hormones in foods and pesticides all have estrogen-mimicking actions which disrupt the delicate balance of hormones needed for fertilization to occur.
Limiting exposure to environmental toxins is essential. Eating a plant-based diet of organic foods and limiting soy-based foods may help to restore hormonal balance and increase fertility.
Herbs for women which enhance fertility
Herbs used for the treatment of infertility work slowly. It may take six months to two years of continued use to restore hormonal balance.
1. Vitex. Vitex is an herb which is commonly recommended for women who desire to become pregnant. Vitex is beneficial for women who suffer from amenorrhea, a lack of menses. It lowers estrogen levels and increases progesterone production. These actions are needed for ovulation to occur. Experts recommend that 30 to 40 milligrams of dried vitex berries or one milliliter of a one-to-one extract be consumed daily to enhance fertility. Vitex has also been shown to help prevent miscarriage during the first trimester of pregnancy.
2. Maca. An herb frequently employed to boost fertility in males, maca improves estrogen balance in women as well. Astragalus has traditionally been employed by Ayurvedic practitioners to promote fertility in women and men.
Maca, a South American herb, is one of the premier plants used to increase fertility in men. An underground nutrient storage part, the hypocotyl, of the plant is used. Maca comes in several colors. The best color to use for the treatment of infertility is a black.
Clinical trials revealed that men who used maca for four months had increased sperm counts and improved sperm motility. An increased volume of sperm and semen was noted as well. Maca reduces estrogen levels and increases testosterone levels. Studies indicate that 1,500 to 3,000 milligrams daily for four months offers beneficial effects.
3. Pycnogenol is a supplement derived from pine species. A study of 200 men revealed that men who took 200 milligrams of pycnogenol daily for four months achieved almost a 40 percent increase in sperm function and health.
4. Tribulus enhances circulation in men’s sexual organs. This can enhance the movement of sperm.
5. Damiana also improves circulation of the sexual organs. In addition, damiana helps to create pH balance within the male sexual organs which improves sperm viability.
6. Horsetail contains substantial supplies of the nutrient selenium, necessary for healthy sperm production.
7. The Ayurvedic herb ashwagandha enhances libido and improves sperm motility. Five grams of dried herb taken daily with skim milk was successfully used to enhance semen quality in one study.
Researchers in that study noted that ashwagandha helped the men to relax — an important, often difficult, state to achieve among men who are hoping to make a baby. The relaxant effect is likely due to ashwagandha’s ability to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Testosterone and other hormonal levels important for conception were improved among the men participating in the study.
8. Ginseng. Practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine recommend the use of Asian ginseng. If using ginseng, be sure to purchase an extract from a reliable company as poor quality and adulterated products are common. Asian ginseng has been shown to increase energy, elevate sperm counts, and improve vitality of sperm. It also increases testosterone levels.
Options for creating your family
Infertility can be a frustrating, stress-inducing condition. Many treatments are expensive or beyond the reach of potentially great parents. Try implementing herbs if you desire to become pregnant. If you are taking medications or have questions, check with a health care professional before implementing herbal therapies.
If you want to be a parent, there are many options available to you. No one choice is right for everyone. Herbs, medical interventions, and adoption are all viable routes to parenthood. Persevere, and in the end you will be rewarded with a wonderful new addition to your family.
What are your favorite herbs for health? Tell us in the comments section below.