Do all-natural fertility drugs really work?

Talk with your doctor about all-natural options. With professional guidance, men and women can approach their infertility challenges with eyes open to the challenges and opportunities ahead. See more drug pictures.
Talk with your doctor about all-natural options. With professional guidance, men and women can approach their infertility challenges with eyes open to the challenges and opportunities ahead. See more drug pictures.

If you're having trouble getting pregnant, you may think you're alone. That can be overwhelming. However, difficulty conceiving isn't rare. In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic, an estimated 10 to 15 percent of U.S. couples face infertility. This means that these couples don't successfully conceive within a year of having unprotected sex on a regular basis [source: Mayo Clinic].

All is not lost, though, for couples struggling to get pregnant. Your physician can collaborate with you to plan the best medical treatments for your situation. That said, is there anything you can do to boost your efforts -- whether as a complement to those treatments or as a treatment on its own? The answer: Yes, you can look toward Mother Nature and consider all-natural fertility drugs, so long as you first discuss those tactics at length with your physician.


You also could use a primer on these all-natural options as a starting point for your discussion. That's why, in this article, we'll discuss all-natural fertility drug options for women and men.

There are myriad all-natural herbal fertility treatment options on the market for women. For example, according to Wellsphere, evening primrose oil can be used for its potential to promote cervical mucus. And a treatment called dong quai may strengthen a woman's uterus by increasing blood flow to her pelvis [source: Wellsphere].

But, how should treatment options -- like evening primrose oil and dong quai -- be used? Are they effective? As with any treatment, you should speak with your physician about how to try these options.

But will your physician think your hopes in all-natural options are unfounded? Maybe, but maybe not: Herbal treatments have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. In fact, Kelly Burgess for iParenting states that all-natural options were used in China to counteract infertility as far back as 476 B.C., and they help promote a whole-body focus on facing infertility.

According to Mayo Clinic gynecologist and obstetrician Dr. Mary Gallenberg, the verdict on these options is still out. There just hasn't been that much research as of yet. For example, while Gallenberg mentions a few studies that link vitamin C with helping women with ovulation disorders, she also points to the need for additional investigation [source: Gallenberg].

Keep in mind, also, that herbal treatments can interact with other medicines or treatments you may be trying. They also can come with their own side effects, so chat it up with your physician.


Working Fertility from Both Sides

In addition to herbs, there is an all-natural approach you may wish to discuss with your physician. In fact, it's directly aligned with the earth's most readily available natural medication: food. According to the Harvard Mental Health Letter, a study of 18,000 women out of the Nurses' Health Study points to a healthy approach to fertility and well-being, including a diet that highlights the following strategies:

  • Relying on vegetable protein over meat
  • Choosing whole milk over skim
  • Seeking out iron from plant products
  • Sticking to water as your beverage-of-choice over sodas
  • Taking a multivitamin with folic acid

Before a woman changes her eating habits, though, it's important to remember that infertility isn't a women's-only club. In fact, the Mayo Clinic states that 20 percent of infertility cases result from male infertility alone, and 30 to 40 percent result from fertility issues of both the male and female. Have no fear, though. There are all-natural fertility treatment options out there for men, too.


Let's look at a few examples from Dr. Gallenberg for the Mayo Clinic, who discusses coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), L-carnitine and vitamin E. Gallenberg, who is also quick to remind us that herbal treatments aren't regulated by the FDA and can interact with other medications, mentions these options as a few that have been involved in limited studies.

For example, she mentions that some research shows that coenzyme Q10 may help pump up a man's sperm count and the sperm's motility, even if additional research is needed. For L-carnitine, Gallenberg refers to one study that connected it with getting that sperm moving when combined with another amino acid, acetyl-L-carnitine. And what about vitamin E? One study has shown that vitamin E could have a hand in helping men with low sperm counts increase their chances of impregnating their partners, while other studies report this may not be true [source: Gallenberg].

Even though the full verdict is out on all-natural fertility drugs, that doesn't mean they shouldn't be a part of the conversation with your physician. You never know how your own scenario will play out, and it can be hard to ignore a tactic that's been in use for centuries. With professional guidance, men and women can approach their infertility challenges with eyes open to the options before them -- including those coming from the ground.


Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • American Pregnancy Association. "Infertility and Chiropractic Care." (March 14, 2011)
  • Berkley, Mike. "Treating Infertility using Acupuncture." American Pregnancy Association. May 2007. (March 14, 2011)
  • Berkley, Mike. "Treating Infertility with Herbal Medications." American Pregnancy Association. August 2006. (March 14, 2011)
  • Burgess, Kelly. "Chinese Medicine and Fertility." iParenting. (March 15, 2011)
  • Coleman, Naomi. "Complementary therapies to help boost fertility." Daily Mail. (March 15, 2011)
  • Darling, Susan, LAC, DIPLOM, NCCAOM. "Enhancing Male Fertility with Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine." Resolve: The Natural Infertility Association. Winter 2010. (March 14, 2011)
  • Gallenberg, Mary M.D. " Fertility herbs: Do they enhance fertility?" Web MD. April 1, 2010. (March 14, 2011)
  • Harvard Mental Health Letter. "Follow The Fertility Diet?" May 2009. (March 15, 2011)
  • Mann, Denise. "Herbs and Fertility Don't Mix." Web MD. Aug. 10, 2000. (March 14, 2011)
  • Mayo Clinic. "Infertility." June 27, 2009. (March 14, 2011)
  • Mayo Clinic. "Male infertility." June 10, 2010. (March 14, 2011)
  • MSN. "7 Home Remedies for Male Infertility." (March 15, 2011)
  • National Institutes of Health. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development. "Infertility/Fertility." (March 14, 2011)
  • Natural Fertility "How to Use Fertility Herbs To Enhance Your Fertility Naturally." 2009. (March 15, 2011)
  • Ryan, Caroline. "Hypnosis 'doubles IVF success'." BBC News. June 29, 2004. (March 15, 2011)
  • Web MD. "New Trends in Infertility Treatment." 2006. (March 15, 2011)
  • Wellsphere. "When Should You Stop Taking Fertility Herbs?" Oct. 4, 2010. (March 15, 2011)