Herbal remedies and supplements have become commonplace for people who are looking to improve their health as they are considered all natural. And many people assume that if a product is natural, then it must be safe. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. For men and women who are attempting to get pregnant, natural products can be extremely detrimental. Despite the myriad of herbs that promote fertility, there are just as many that can negatively affect fertility. Some herbs can affect how the reproductive system functions; others will act as a natural contraceptive while others can result in a miscarriage of a newly implanted embryo. Here is a list of the herbs that should be avoided when trying to conceive:
1. Gingko Biloba
What it is: A tree that is found typically in Asia that produces a very stinky fruit.
It’s Effect on Fertility: Gingko biloba has anticoagulant properties and increases the blood flow to the reproductive organs. However, this herb can result in the prevention of the embryo implanting in the uterus.
What it is: Native to North America, this is a wildflower that is used to increase the health of the immune system and to combat colds and flu’s.
It’s Effect on Fertility: Echinacea contains a substance that has been shown to interfere with or completely restrict the release of unfertilized eggs into the fallopian tubes. If the eggs are not released, they cannot be fertilized by sperm and thus, conception cannot occur.
3. St. John’s Wart
What it is: Initially utilized in ancient Greece, this herb is a plant that bears yellow flowers and is primarily used to treat depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders.
It’s Effect on Fertility: This particular herb has more negative effects on male fertility than on female. It has been shown to hinder the ability of the sperm to penetrate and fertilize the egg and in some instances it has even caused genetic mutations in the sperm.
What it is: Grown in Southern and Central Europe, this plant has purple and white flowers with maroon seed pods. Licorice is commonly used to treat rosacea and to help prevent tooth decay.
It’s Effect on Fertility: Known to increase blood pressure, increase water retention, decrease testosterone levels in men, and hamper sperm production this herb should be avoided at all costs when trying to conceive.
5. Neem Oil
What it is: Originating in Southeast Asia, this plant is commonly used on the skin to prevent insect bites.
It’s Effect on Fertility: Neem oil is used vaginally by women that acts as a spermicide and essentially kills the sperm so that they cannot reach and fertilize an egg. In men, when taken orally, it induces temporary sterility.
6. Cotton Root Bark
What it is: Cultivated in India, this evergreen shrub has been used to treat fever, snake bites, dysentery, and stimulating sexual libido.
It’s Effect on Fertility: This particular herb is responsible for restricting the corpus luteum’s ability to produce progesterone. This progesterone production is imperative for pregnancy to occur. If it is restricted, pregnancy cannot occur.
7. Queen Anne’s Lace Seeds (QAL)
What it is: Commonly known as Wild Carrot, this herb is indigenous to Northeastern Africa and Eurasia and has been used to treat digestive problems, kidney disease, and to relieve gas.
It’s Effect on Fertility: QAL is one of the herbs that make implantation nearly impossible. Its effects have been described as making the uterus slippery so that an egg cannot implant. Additionally, if an egg has been implanted, this will cause it to be released – which is essentially a miscarriage.
8. Rue or Rutin
What it is: A yellow flowering plant that relieves painful gout and gas pain, and to improve appetite and digestive functions.
It’s Effect on Fertility: Acting as a stimulant for adrenaline, the overproduction of this hormone decreases the permeability of the uterine tissues causing the endometrium to become a hostile environment for the fertilized egg.
As previously mentioned, some of these herbs are used purposely as a contraceptive or for their abortive properties. However, if taking any of these herbs for their other health benefits while trying to conceive it is important to consult with a doctor or herbalist to determine if they will hinder the ability to get pregnant.