While some of these alleged natural remedies for infertility may have positive effects, none deliver on their promises of helping you conceive, and some may actually be harmful. Here's what to do instead.
They may want to avoid the expense and side effects of conventional medical treatment, for example, or they feel like holistic lifestyle changes may have benefits beyond increased fertility (like weight loss or improved mood and energy).
However, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is, and no health blog is a true replacement for a medically trained professional. While some of these natural remedies for primary or secondary infertility may have positive effects, none deliver on their promises of helping you conceive:
Plenty of bloggers and diet gurus advocate for specific foods to help fertility, with messages like “Drink this juice every morning to boost fertility!” or “Eat a handful of walnuts every day to improve your chances of conceiving!”
Unfortunately, if curing infertility were as easy as taking a stroll down your grocery store’s produce aisle, nobody would need treatments like Clomid or IVF. You won’t magically improve a low sperm count or ovulate more regularly just by adding bananas to your breakfast smoothie.
That means eating a well-balanced diet with an adequate amount of calories and all the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy. It’s important to make sure that you’re getting enough folic acid (found in green foods like broccoli and spinach, as well as many fruits) and vitamin D, while avoiding too much alcohol, caffeine and processed meats, like bacon.
As it turns out, the best diet for fertility is also the best diet for your overall health, so it never hurts to start these habits early!
While there is some evidence that certain oils have helpful properties — for example, thyme oil is antimicrobial, so it might make a fragrant addition to your favorite hand soap — be wary of any claim that a certain oil can cure your infertility.
Also, be careful not to apply essential oils directly to your skin. With the exception of tea tree and lavender oil, most essential oils must be diluted in a carrier oil or lotion before being applied to skin.
In fact, sex outside of your fertile window is now thought to boost overall fertility, also!).
While dousing yourself in a mixture of jojoba oil and ylang ylang is unlikely to make you more fertile, a sexy scent can help set the mood for a very pleasurable evening.
Try adding a few drops of sandalwood or lavender oil to your favorite lotion and exchanging sexy massages with your partner. Or, you can heat up some cinnamon oil in a diffuser to spice up your scheduled TTC sex with mouth-watering fragrance.
For example, the main ingredient in aspirin can be derived from many plants, like willow trees or meadowsweet. However, herbal supplements are not evaluated by the FDA, and can range from being completely ineffective to downright harmful.
Over-the-counter herbs like St. John’s Wort, thought to improve mood, can interact with many prescription medicines. Meanwhile, black cohosh, sometimes touted as a fertility aid, is actually unsafe to use while pregnant — so it can potentially work against you when you’re trying to conceive.
Additionally, many herbal supplements have been found not to contain the actual herbs, so you can buy a bottle of, say, echinacea and not receive any of the actual plant. Again, this is a hazard of purported natural remedies for infertility that have not been tested by the FDA.
Either your primary care physician or a fertility specialist can advise you which herbs can be potentially beneficial, which are a waste of money and which can actually be detrimental to your health and your TTC goals. Read more about vitamins and supplements for fertility.
However, no actual medical research bears this out. The upside is that sexual positions aren't likely to harm fertility, either, so whether you're crazy for the Kama Sutra or prefer to keep things simple and missionary, you can follow your bliss and still conceive.
It’s also never a bad idea to remain in a reclined position for a few minutes after sex, giving the sperm enough time to make its way to the fallopian tubes. While we're on the subject, it never hurts to ensure that both partners orgasm. The science is out on whether orgasm helps fertility, but it certainly helps motivate you to keep trying!
Also, make sure that if you’re using lubrication, that it’s sperm-friendly. Most personal lubricants create a difficult environment for sperm to thrive in, but ASTROGLIDE TTC has been shown in studies not to impede sperm motility.
While there is sometimes a grain of truth hidden in the claims made by proponents, natural remedies for infertility tend to be minimally helpful at best, and potentially harmful at worst. In general, a healthy lifestyle — with balanced nutrition, moderate exercise and stress management — is beneficial not only for your fertility, but for your overall well-being.
Follow common sense tips to be the healthiest version of you, and if you need extra help with conceiving, call a fertility specialist. The sooner you book that appointment, the sooner you can work toward having the family you’ve always dreamed of.
Images are for illustrative purposes only.