How to Conceive: Natural Fertility Aids
A Baby: The End Result of Successful Conception
Natural Methods for Conception
Many women struggle with irregular cycles, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and other disorders that affect fertility. Trying to conceive can be an extremely difficult process, which is emotionally exhausting and can be extremely expensive once medical assistance is required.
Natural fertility aids are often a first step for women who have identified a problem with conceiving, but are not quite ready to see a reproductive endocrinologist yet. Soy isoflavones and Vitex are common aids that may be purchased at any drugstore. Other methods are described below. Many herbal fertility enhancements have not been formally studied (with the exception of Vitex), so discuss any potential fertility remedy with a physician prior to use.
Soy Isoflavones for Trying to Conceive
Soy isoflavones are known as "nature's clomid." Soy mimics the behavior of the hormone estrogen, and many women use it to jump-start and regulate their ovulation patterns. Many women state their irregular cycles were made more regular (with a consistent ovulation pattern) with the use of soy isoflavones.
There are no official research studies on the proper dosage of soy, though most women take between 80-160mg in the early part of their cycle to trigger ovulation. Most tablets (sold by department stores) have a dosage of 40mg. Women will take 2-4 tablets each day for a few days prior to ovulation: days 1-5, 3-7, or 5-9 of their cycle. Women who try soy isoflavones to conceive should understand the following:
- Do not take soy isoflavones and vitex (chasteberry) at the same time.
- Do not take soy isoflavones if you have a regular cycle.
- Do not initiate soy isoflavones past day 5 of your cycle.
- Never take more than 160mg of soy, and do not take it for more than 5 days in a row.
- Do not use soy if you have endometriosis, as this may worsen the condition.
Soy taken earlier in the cycle (days 1-5) will produce more eggs, though they may be immature at ovulation. Soy taken during the later part of the cycle (days 5-9) will produce fewer eggs, but they will be more mature. Most women strive for the middle ground and use the soy isoflavones during days 3-7 of their cycle. Women trying for twins often attempt to use soy during days 1-5 of their cycle.
Pregnancy Prep Vitamins for Conception
Vitex (Chasteberry) as a Conception Aid
Many women swear by Vitex, another natural herb that helps to regulate menstrual cycles and produce a more consistent ovulation pattern. The common name of the plant is chaste berry, and women who suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) report success with this herb.
Vitex slightly inhibits follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), but increases luteinizing hormone (LH). This increases the amount of progesterone in the body, and helps to correct problems in the luteal phase. Many "fertility vitamins" include vitex in the formulation.
Vitex is typically taken as a tincture (drops into water) or in pill form. The dosage (according to the University of Michigan) is 40 drops of liquid extract with water, or 35-40 mg of vitex powder in capsule form. It may take several months for the Vitex to regulate a woman's menstrual cycle.
Chaste berry should be discontinued as soon as a woman becomes pregnant.
Vitex Success Story
Pineapple Core to Conceive: Potential Danger
Pineapple Core and Implantation
An old wives' tale states that if a woman eats pineapple core, it will help the fertilized egg to implant in the womb. The reasoning behind this natural fertility aid is the presence of high levels of bromelain in the core of a pineapple.
Bromelain is an enzyme that digests protein and acts as a natural anti-inflammatory agent. The belief is that the anti-inflammatory properties will help an embryo to implant. Some women take bromelain tablets instead of eating pineapple core.
There is a complete lack of studies on the efficacy and safety of bromelain in pregnancy, however, and bromelain has also been shown to cause uterine contractions. Too much bromelain may actually prevent a pregnancy, as the uterus may contract too much and expel the embryo. Under-ripe pineapple is actually used to perform abortions in some countries.
Since there are no studies demonstrating the proper dosage, safety, or efficacy of pineapple core in conception, this natural fertility aid is probably best avoided.
Maca Root Powder
Maca Root for Fertility
Maca root is another natural supplement women use when trying to conceive. It is the root to a perennial plant native to Peru. A double-blind study demonstrated benefits to male reproductive health when maca root was ingested1.
When women take use maca root, they usually ingest it in the form of powder contained in capsules. The typical dosage is 2,000-3,000mg per day. This supplement is taken throughout the entire cycle. Maca root should be discontinued once a women becomes pregnant.
- Gonzales, GF; Cordova A., Gonzales C., Chung A., Vega K. & Villena A. (2001). "Lepidium meyenii (maca) improved semen parameters in adult men". Asian Journal of Andrology 3 (4): 301–3.
Maca Root Fertility Treatment
Red Raspberry Leaf
Red raspberry leaf is also known for regulating menstrual cycles, and is often used in conjunction with vitex as a natural conception aid. While there are some anecdotal stories supporting its use, red raspberry leaf is also known to cause uterine contractions (which would not help a new embryo to implant into the uterine lining).
Women who use red raspberry leaf tea when trying to conceive generally consume the tea in the first part of their cycle, prior to ovulation. Once ovulation has occurred, the tea is discontinued.
Fertility Treatment Poll
What natural fertility treatment worked for you?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.