From Dr Oz’s advice on the best positions for conception to Hippocrates’ mixture of honey, cumin and other herbs to open the cervix, there are no shortages of natural remedies available to improve fertility (hey, even Siri gave me 8-10 natural remedies to improve my fertility, even though I didn’t ask for them to be natural). The truth is that for millennia individuals have struggled with infertility and looked to the world around them for answers and treatments. Until very recently, the only options for treatments were those that nature provided. Let’s try and demystify some natural fertility boosters and remedies that have passed the test of time and see what use they may be.
Natural Fertility Aids
The first supplement to discuss is Maca (AKA maca-maca, maino, ayak chichira, and ayak willku): it is a commonly used fertility aid and, in its natural form, is a root plant that looks like a turnip but has a chemical makeup similar to a grain. Maca also contains high levels of p-methoxybenzyl isothiocyanate, and while there may be nothing romantic about that name, it is reportedly the secret ingredient that gives Maca its aphrodisiac properties. Interestingly, Inca warriors used to eat Maca before battle. This was probably because of the high calorie content of the plant, just like modern day marathon runners prepare with a “pasta party” before their big run. Maca gets one GENESIS Fertility thumb up since, although it doesn’t seem to improve fertility per se, it may help get couples “in the mood” and that definitely can be helpful.
Royal Jelly is another “natural fertility booster.” It is a secretion that comes out of the heads of worker bees and is used to nourish bee larvae and queen-bees. In bees and flies it stimulates ovarian development. In humans, not so much. In fact, Royal Jelly may increase testosterone (generally a hormone thought to reduce fertility when present in high levels) It may also block estrogen receptors in the body like the drug DES (Diethylstilbestrol), which has been banned in the US due to its harmful effects to developing fetuses. This natural supplement gets two thumbs down in the GENESIS scale since it may do harm.
Coenzyme Q10 (AKA CoQ10, ubiquinone, or ubidecarenone) is another supplement often used to boost lagging fertility. It helps the mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell) in our bodies to process and recycle energy; this is especially important in the ovary since lagging energy is thought to be one mechanism of ovarian aging. It seems that CoQ10 may reduce ovarian aging and improve egg health by boosting mitochondrial strength. But remember: it can take up to 90 days for eggs to develop and so, if your doctor recommends supplemental CoQ10, it is important to give it up to 3 months to start working. Great natural sources of CoQ10 are chicken, soybeans and olive oil.
Acupuncture – one of the most common questions that we are asked at GENESIS is “would acupuncture help” or “is acupuncture safe if I am trying to get pregnant?” In the right hands, it can be. There are studies that have shown that acupuncture used just before and after an embryo transfer improves success rates. Additionally, other studies have shown that acupuncture may improve chronic problems that reduce fertility such as low thyroid hormone or painful periods. It is important, however, that your acupuncturist knows that you are trying to get pregnant because improper technique may cause miscarriages. As an extra bonus, acupuncture also appears to reduce stress and anxiety, and that is always a welcome relief.
Considering natural fertility treatments?
A lot of natural fertility treatments have survived to this day because they were based on keen insights and observation, but that does not mean that they are without risks. The most important thing to keep in mind is that any treatment that works will also have side effects. This is especially true with natural treatments since they may contain massive amounts of potent chemicals. It is always important to contact your care provider to make sure that these treatments are safe for you.