Did you know that Evening Primrose Oil (EPO) has a wide array of benefits for fertility? Some studies have shown that it can help reduce PMS symptoms, increase cervical mucous, while reducing inflammation. This is because of its high content of the omega-6 essential fatty acids (EFA’s), Linoleic Acid (LA) and Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA). This oil comes from the Evening Primrose plant, Oenothera biennis seeds. The seeds are gathered and cold pressed for their oil; the oil is then encapsulated for dietary supplement use.
LA is needed for prostaglandin E and GLA is needed for the synthesis of prostaglandin E. Prostaglandins are not hormones, but rather messengers that act on many different cells; they are also produced in many different areas of the body. Hormones are produced in designated sites in the body (unique to the hormone). One of the many functions of Prostaglandin’s is to help control regulation of hormones as well as control proper cell growth.
Promote and Maintain Hormonal Balance
EPO contains high amounts of LA and GLA, which as explained above, are necessary for prostaglandin function. Prostaglandins are necessary for proper hormonal balance. Getting enough omega-6 EFA’s, such as LA and GLA through EPO supplementation, has been shown to support overall hormonal function within the body. EPO is one of the few plants to contain GLA.
Help for Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Many women face breast tenderness, bloating, acne, water retention, depression, foggy thinking, irritability and headaches prior to their menstrual period; this is known as PMS. Evening Primrose Oil has been used in many studies, though many of those studies are incomplete and some did not use placebo groups. There have been four double-blind, crossover, controlled trials, showing significant positive results in reducing PMS by using 3-4 grams of EPO a day. Results show a marked improvement in the reduction of headaches, foggy thinking, clumsiness, depression, irritability, bloating, and breast tenderness.
If you are a woman who suffers from PMS EPO may be safely combined with other herbs such as Vitex to help alleviate PMS symptoms.
Increase Cervical Mucous
EPO has been used by herbalists for hundreds of years to increase cervical mucous. Cervical fluid is necessary for allowing the sperm to swim freely through the cervix. Some of us have low or no cervical fluid, so it is harder for the sperm to move and there may not be a friendly environment for the sperm to sustain themselves.
The suggested usage for increasing cervical mucous using EPO is initially 500mg, three times a day for a total of 1500mg per day. If you don’t get results in your first cycle, you may want to increase your usage to 3,000 mg a day in your next cycle. If you are actively trying to conceive do not use EPO after ovulation because this herb has an action on the uterus. You can learn more about this below.
How EPO Acts on the Uterus
It is believed that the high levels of LA and GLA’s in Evening Primrose Oil have a direct effect on uterine cells. These contract and relax smooth muscle tissue. This action on the uterus is toning for the uterine muscles in preparation for pregnancy. EPO is NOT suggested for use after ovulation when a woman is trying to conceive. If a woman is pregnant, or thinks she may be pregnant, she should not not use EPO because the uterus may begin to contract. In some women this may lead to pre-term labor or miscarriage; though there is little evidence as such. Nonetheless, it is always best to use caution when using EPO if you think you may be pregnant.
Some of you may have heard that EPO is safe for pregnancy. This is because EPO has been used to prepare (ripen) the cervix, in the last trimester of pregnancy, for hundreds of years by midwives. This is either done by rubbing the cervix with the oil, having the mother use an EPO capsule as a vaginal suppository, or having the mother take it in internally the last few weeks of her pregnancy. This should only be done under the care of a highly qualified midwife or other qualified medical professional.
Something to Think About if You Use Aspirin Therapy
It has also been found that aspirin and aspirin like compounds may inhibit prostaglandin function. This is of special concern for women, who have been using aspirin therapy for years. Many doctors suggest aspirin therapy to help reduce the chance of re-current miscarriage, due to blood clotting issues. EPO may help support and restore prostaglandin function, for women who have used aspirin therapy.
Suggested Usage of Evening Primrose Oil
General usage is 1500 – 3000 mg one to two times daily. Beginning at the lowest suggested dosage may help to see how the body responds to this supplement, and then increase over time as necessary.
While Actively Trying to Conceive: General usage is 1500 – 3000 mg one to two times daily, from day 1 – 14 in the cycle. Evening Primrose Oil may cause uterine contractions in pregnancy which is why it may be best to not continue it past ovulation (in case of pregnancy) while actively trying to conceive. Post ovulation it may be best to switch to cod liver oil or another omega-3 oil.
Not Actively Trying to Conceive: For those who desire to take EPO to help reduce PMS, for menstrual cramps or general hormone balance support, and are NOT actively trying to conceive, EPO may be taken all month long.
Discontinue Evening Primrose Oil if you suspect or confirm you are pregnant. Consult a qualified practitioner to see if this supplement is right for you.
Who knew a tiny seed could hold amazing fertility health benefits? The Evening Primrose flower is delicate, yellow and very fragrant. It opens in the evening attracting moths basking in the moon’s soft glow. It seems to have a connection to the cool evening and the moon cycle. In the morning as the sun comes up, the flower closes resting during the hot day. It relies on it’s seeds to continue it’s life cycle, as it is a biennial plant. It is one of the few night-blooming plants on earth. This is another special plant that has an affinity to women’s fertility. It holds a dear place in my heart!
1. Women’s Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine; Tori Hudson, ND. McGraw Hill Publishing, 2008
3. Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health; Aviva Romm. Churchill Livingstone, 2010
4. Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year; Susun S. Weed. Ash Tree Publishing, 1986