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Effective or Just an Old Wives Tale?
Vitex. The name sounds more like a drug than a plant, but this herb has a long history of being used as a fertility enhancer. Native to Italy and Greece, Vitex is also known as Chasteberry or Chaste Tree, and it can work wonders when it comes to balancing hormones.
In modern clinical studies, the herb has been shown to balance fertility hormones, but because it does not actually contain hormones, vitex is a gentle way to correct hormonal imbalances. In theory, vitex is an excellent solution to help couples overcome fertility issues. But in practice, can this herb actually help improve your chances of getting pregnant?
Vitex for Fertility: How It Works
As science understands it, vitex has both a regulating and supporting effect on the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is often referred to as the “master gland” because it controls numerous functions in the body. For instance, the pituitary gland is responsible for sending signals to the ovaries to produce hormones.
If the pituitary gland is working efficiently, the body works more efficiently, too – in all departments.
Studies have shown that vitex can:
- Reduce FSH production: Vitex can limit the production of FSH, the follicle-stimulating hormone, and increase production of LH, which increases progesterone levels.
- Improve progesterone levels: Because of its ability to improve the body’s production of LH, vitex also supports improved progesterone levels. The herb has been shown to stimulate the corpus luteum, the structure responsible for secreting progesterone.
- Extend the luteal phase: Some studies have shown vitex to be effective at extending the luteal phase. This is thanks to the herb’s ability to increase production of LH, luteinizing hormone, which promotes ovulation.
- Relieve PMS symptoms: Research has also shown that vitex can be effective at relieving PMS symptoms, including rashes, headaches, depression, allergies, acne, and breast tenderness.
- Prevent miscarriages: High levels of progesterone are required to support a healthy pregnancy. Vitex helps improve progesterone levels, which in turn can help prevent a miscarriage.
- Improve menstrual regularity: Because of its ability to regulate hormones, vitex can be effective at improving the regularity of your menstrual cycle.
Vitex has been used by many women to overcome hormone-related fertility issues. But how safe is this herb, and how much should you take?
Side Effects and Safety Concerns
Vitex is an herb that’s been used for thousands of years, and during all that time, no significant side effects have been reported. That’s not to say that this herb is side-effect-free, but most women experience mild side effects, such as:
- GI issues
- Skin irritation
In some cases, women who are depressed may experience an exacerbation of their depression symptoms.
Many women do experience changes in their menstrual cycle shortly after taking this herb. Your cycle may lengthen and/or shorten before it finally stabilizes. This is no cause for concern and its merely nothing than the body trying to restore its natural balance.
Vitex Pregnancy Support
Can you use vitex during pregnancy? While you should consult with your doctor before taking vitex while you’re pregnant, most women find that this herb is beneficial and helps support a healthy pregnancy.
Vitex’s ability to improve progesterone production is a big part of the reason why women take this herb during pregnancy. When taken early on, vitex may be able to prevent a miscarriage and ensure a healthy pregnancy later on.
In Germany, research has shown that it is safe for women to take vitex all the way through the third month of pregnancy. While it’s safe to continue taking this herb after the third month, it’s believed that it may stimulate lactation too early. Also, during the third month of pregnancy, the placenta then takes over progesterone production, and vitex likely would not be needed.
Vitex is an excellent fertility-supporting herb that can help women regulate their menstrual cycles and prevent miscarriages. In order to maximize the benefits of this herb, you’ll need to take it regularly and consistently. Remember to be patient, too, as herbs take some time to work.