Tribulus Terrestris: Fertility Herb for Both Men and Women…

Tribulus Terrestris: Fertility Herb for Both Men and Women…

Photo by Forest & Kim Starr

Tribulus Terrestris. Photo by Forest & Kim Starr

Tribulus terrestris, while there are not many herbs that have been show to benefit both male and female fertility, this is one of them. Tribulus has been used as a traditional fertility herb for years, in both Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda. Traditional healing practices are rooted in time tested results, but scientific researchers in Bulgaria wanted to know how this herb really works. Several studies have been conducted to find out how Tribulus aids fertility, for both men and women.

Studies show the following fertility benefits:

  • Increase in sex hormone production in both men and women.
  • Increase in serum FSH and estradiol in women.
  • Increase in LH and testosterone in men.
  • Improvement in sexual desire in both men and women.
  • May normalize ovulation in infertile women when used prior to ovulation.
  • Increase in sperm count, motility, and health.
  • Decrease in the effects of antisperm antibodies.
  • Overall fertility tonic for male and female reproductive system.
  • May aid the male body in producing DHEA to treat erectile dysfunction.

Tribulus for Male Fertility

Erectile Dysfunction
The main part of Tribulus, that aids in fertility for men, is a constituent called protodioscin. This constituent improves DHEA levels in the male body. In men with ED, it has been found they have low levels of DHEA. Some studies have shown that protodioscin, extracted from Tribulus, increases natural DHEA levels needed for proper erection. Protodioscin is also the main constituent that is responsible for Tribulus’ aphrodisiac qualities. Increase in sexual desire when using this plant has been reported by both men and women.

Antisperm Antibodies
A study in 1998, performed in Bulgaria, using Tribulus on couples with antisperm antibodies, found a 61% increase in conception. Antisperm antibodies are when the body has an immune response to semen. Antibodies are triggered during the immune response that work to kill off the sperm. High numbers of sperm antibodies can make it difficult for the sperm to reach the egg, and/or fertilize the egg. Antisperm antibodies also may damage sperm that survive, which increases chance of miscarriage. An extract, made into a tablet of Tribulus terrestris was given orally to couples with antisperm antibodies. Both the man and woman were treated. Men received 1 dose, 3 times a day for 60 days. Women received 1 dose, 3 times a day for 7 days, in the beginning of their cycle, for 6 months. The average time it took for couples to conceive was 5.2 months. This shows that consistency of use is very important!

In addition, TCM and Ayurvedic practitioners have found Tribulus to be very effective in improving sperm count, motility, and morphology when combined with dietary and exercise changes.

Tribulus for Female Fertility

Using Tribulus for Female Fertility and Ovulation Stimulation
One study performed on 36 women who were not ovulating, showed that that 67% realized normal ovulation after only 2-3 months of consistent use. The women were given 300-400mg a day, from day 5-14 of their menstrual cycle. 6% became pregnant right away.

A rat study using Tribulus, published in Aug. 2011, showed that Tribulus reduced the number of cysts in the ovaries, in female rats with PCOS. High doses of the extract were administered orally. The treatment showed the ovarian cysts to have significantly decreased, and normal ovarian function restored. While this was not a human study, it gives scientists more research to use when considering this herb for treatment of PCOS in humans. Many herbalists find Tribulus is an effective, overall female fertility tonic and ovarian stimulant, making it an excellent choice for women with PCOS. This is especially true for women who are not ovulating due to PCOS.

This herb has been found to be wonderful in aiding women with menstrual irregularities, improving timing of the entire menstrual cycle. Tribulus has also been found to be a nourishing tonic for the female reproductive system as a whole, especially concerning the ovaries.

Tribulus combines well with other herbs. See below for herbal combinations…..
The following herbs have been shown safe and effective when combined with Tribulus.

  • Lack of libido: Damiana, Maca
  • Male Sexual Dysfunction: Korean Ginseng, Saw Palmetto, Maca or Ashwagandha
  • Female Tonic for Reproductive Health: Shatavari, Maca

Traditional Suggested Dosage of Tribulus terrestris
Capsule: 500mg a day to start, working up to a 1500mg a day as needed.
Tincture: 3-5 mL, 2 times a day.

For Men: Has been shown best to use all month long, 3-6 months.
For Women: Has been shown best to use from day 5-14 of the cycle, not past ovulation. Tribulus should not be used during pregnancy.

Safety of Tribulus Use: Pregnancy Caution
Many studies have been conducted using Tribulus. No adverse effects have been reported in humans, even with long-term use, with the exception of gastrointestinal upset in some people after 6 months of consistent use. Despite safety, there have been some reports by Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners warning not to use Tribulus during pregnancy. Tribulus is not recommended for use during pregnancy. A woman who is trying to conceive should only use this herb prior to ovulation. Tribulus has been shown to cause or contribute to cholestsis when used during pregnancy. Cholestasis is a liver disease that only happens during pregnancy. In women who develop cholestasis, the normal flow of bile from the gallbladder is affected by very high levels of pregnancy hormones. The gallbladder holds bile from the liver, aiding in the breakdown of fats for digestion. Cholestasis slows this function down, which may cause bile acids to spill into the blood stream.

Some animal studies have shown to cause locomotor disorder known as staggers. While another showed decreased survival rate of offspring when taken during pregnancy. This is why Tribulus should not be used in pregnancy. Discontinue use of Tribulus once you find out you are pregnant, or if you think you may be pregnant.

References:
1. Medicine Immunologie. Tribulus Terrestris and Human Male Fertility: I. Immunological Aspects, R. Stanislavov, V. Nikolova, March 22, 2000
2. MacKay D. Nutrients and botanicals for erectile dysfunction: examining the evidence Alternative Medicine Review. 2004;9(1):4-16.
3. Horowitz S. Treating infertility Altern Complement Med. 2006; August:165-171.l
4. Bensky D, Gamble A, Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica. Seattle: Eastland Press, 1986.
5. americanpregnancy.org/pregnancycomplications/cholestasispregnancy.html
6. canadianjuicemonsters.net/forums/hormone-replacement-therapy-hrt/16961-some-good-tribulus-research.html
7. Alternative Treatment of Ovarian Cysts with Tribulus terrestris Extract: A Rat Model, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1439-0531.2011.01877.x/full, 2011
8. Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health, Aviva Romm, Churchill Livingstone, 2010
9. Women’s Encyclopedia of Natural Health, Tori Hudson, N.D., McGraw Hill, 2008

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[-] 48 Comments
  1. Hi! We’ve been trying to get pregnant for 3 years. My doctor wants me to see a fertility specialist because she says that my husband has a low sperm count. My husband’s doctor disagrees with my doctor and says the sperm count is fine and to just “give it time.” So we are going to try the natural route for a few more months then see a specialist if needed. My husband and I are currently taking multi-vitamins and Maca, and I am adding folic acid to that. Is it safe for both of us to add Cod Live Oil and Tribulus? Thanks!

    • Elizabeth Willett, MA, CH

      Hello Bri!

      You can both take Cod Liver Oil and Tribulus with multivitamins and Maca.
      You both may be interested in learning more about .

      Take Care!

  2. Hi Darlene,

    I have elevated levels of antisperm antibodies and I would like to know if I should also drink the Tribulus from day 5 to 14? My cycle varies between 28 and 32 days so I could also benefit from a more stable cycle.

    • Elizabeth Willett, MA, CH

      Dear Stephany,

      Yes, Tribulus is best used from day 5-14 of the cycle, not past ovulation, no matter the fertility issue.

      You might also consider learning about Systemic Enzyme Therapy. Systemic enzyme blends work to stabilize and promote proper function of the immune system. This may greatly help the person who has developed antisperm antibodies to help suppress an attack on sperm, while also working to prevent long term damage to the health of the sperm, and in women, may also reduce pain and inflammation cause from allergic reaction to the semen.

      In health ~ Liz

  3. Hi Dalene,

    I want to start taken this but i have some…i guess concern. I have hypothyroidism and I’m taken 150mcg of levothyroxine. I guess my concern would be if i took this herb will it interact with my thyroid medication? my numbers have been stable since 2012 so that isn’t an issue anymore. I want to take this herb to help me ovulate and get my periods back on track without taking provera anymore. I would also like to take vitex as well but again my concern is will any of this interact with my medications (if unaware what hypothyroidism is, it is when you thyroid glad in your throat doesn’t give off enough hormones and you gain weight and some other stuff)

    • Elizabeth Willett, MA, CH

      Hello Krystal!

      I hope you don’t mind if I offer some guidance.

      Thyroid function influences reproductive hormone balance, but reproductive hormones also influence thyroid function. Any time you wish to take herbs that have an affect on hormone balance as both Tribulus and Vitex do, it is best to talk to your doctor about the possibility of adding them to your natural health plan. If you already take medications and are wondering if any of these supplements are safe for use with your medication, please speak with your doctor first, prior to using them.

      Be well!

  4. Hi Dalene.
    I started tribulus 7 weeks ago in the form of pregnancy prep, 2 pills 2x a day. I also supplement with vitex to bring the total close to 1000 mg as you suggested for my annovulation problem with all other negative tests by an RE. I also added saw palmetto as you suggested for my hirsutism. How long can it take to bring on ovulation? I haven’t had a period since April 7th so I started this mid June to get a cycle going. Previously to April 500 mg of vitex had brought on a 65 day, a 50 day, and then a 39 day cycle over 5 months, and then stopped. This was better than the nothing I had for 6 months prior to vitex. Is accupuncture helpful too?

    • Hi Michelle,

      It is extremely difficult to guide you without knowing more about your health and lifestyle. You said that all tests performed by your RE came back all negative, but I am not sure what testing you had done. If we have corresponded before via comments on another article and that is what you are referring to, I am sorry, but we receive so many comments, it is too difficult for me to remember every person’s story. Based on the information you have provided here, I would say give it some more time, as you know, herbs need to be taken for many months, consistently, as directed for benefits to be achieved. If you desire more personal guidance, I urge you to consider working with one of our fabulous and very knowledgeable herbalists through our Fertility Consultation program. Our fertility consultations provide you with detailed guidance based on your specific needs.

      Acupuncture is always beneficial to any health issue, in my opinion. Many acupuncturists will want you to be on their own personal herbal protocol, in that case, we don’t recommend combining the herbs you are taking with Chinese herbal formulas. It is best to stick to one herbal program at a time.

      Best Wishes!

  5. I have been off of birth control pills for 3 months now and I have been bleeding off and on (some period like bleeding) since day 12 of my cycle. I’m wondering if these irregularities are from the birth control. My periods were regular before and I have one child already. We are ttc but I’m worried it may take a long time. Will tribulus help? Where could it possibly be purchased? Thanks for any help!

    • Elizabeth Willett, MA, CH

      Hello Jessica!
      When it comes to hormones and their proper function, it is a delicate balancing act. Prolonged use of fertility medications, one of which is birth control (bc), can be confusing to the body. Any time between when you stop using it and up to a year afterward is considered a normal time frame in which it will take your body, on it’s own, to regulate your hormones and start a regular menstrual cycle. For some this simply take longer. It is going to take time for your body to remember how to or be supported in having normal hormonal balance.

      Without knowing in more detail your diet and lifestyle, it sounds as though your body may still be detoxifying from this bc use in addition to that your hormones may still be a bit out of balance post discontinuing bc use.

      Tribulus may be supportive if you know you are not ovulating and you are struggling to get your cycle back. Tribulus can be purchased here….

      What might be more helpful however is to learn about all of the ways you can support your body in recovering from bc use which. I think you’ll find reading How to Balance Your Hormones After Birth Control“> to be helpful!

      We are also happy to support you by creating a personalized program based on your specific fertility needs through a Natural Fertility Consultation.

  6. My doctor diagnosed me with pcos in May due to irregular periods and slightly elevated testosterone levels after coming off BCP last year. My cycle was normal for about 6 months and then I started getting a period every three months. I decided to try using tribulus to help me ovulate on a monthly basis. I took it in May and again in June as your website directs (cd 5-14) and have successfully ovulated both months. Should I continue to take the tribulus or see if my body is able to maintain a regular menstrual cycle on its own? I have been taking vitex since February and plan to continue on it for a full year.

    • Hi Mary,

      Thank you for sharing your story! Tribulus is best taken for at least 3-6 cycles consistently, to achieve best results. I find that women with PCOS often need a longer period of time to help the body regulate hormones and the menstrual cycle, around 8 months of consistent use of this herb. Tribulus is fine to combine with Vitex.

      Best Wishes!

  7. I don’t get my period so would I be able to take this medication. You say in your article to take on 5-14 day of menstral cycle and I don’t have one. What should I do??

    Thank you for the help.

  8. Update 2014 – We are back! We have been away for a while and we sure have missed all of your wonderful questions and thoughts on our articles. Moving forward, one of our staff herbalists will be here to respond to comments! We look forward to connecting with our readers once again!

  9. My husband had a vasectomy reversal in January 2012. He is taking fertilaid, countboost and motility boost, as well as Maca. Would taking tribulus help and is it safe to take with the above supplements?

    Also, I (34) ovulate on my own but it varies from cd13-17. I would like to try to ovulate closer to cd13 on a regular basis. Would taking tribulus help with this, or should I just leave well enough alone in that department.

    Thank you very much.
    Em

  10. Hey I’m just wondering is tribulus alright to take alongside with clomid?

  11. If tribulus increases FSH levels then wouldn’t it be bad to take if you already have high fsh levels? I have every indication of PCOS but my FSH levels are high, around 13. I almost bought tribulus but I would hate for it to higher my fsh.

  12. Hi my husband and I have been having a terrible time trying to conceive! He had a Vasectomy Reversal in June 2011. We got a microscope and had saw swimmers, not a lot alive but it was hopeful. Then a month later.. less and checked again a month later and all dead!! So we went on Fertility Blend and nothing…The doctor that did the reversal said he thought it was a mistake but its not we keep checking.He said he has never saw anything like it count was awesome. He said to stop taking the vitamins that they might not be good for my husbands body. :( So dont know what to do…Still great count no motility…Can tribulus help??? is there any other natural supplements that would help? Thank You for listening…Wendy E.

  13. hi dalena
    i’m 30 years old and may husband is 33 years old. last month we went to doctor and she told us my husbant doesnt have sperm(azosperm).does tribulus works for that please help me

  14. If taking tribulus fuel from Twinlab company which is a dietary supplement for men to be used while workouts, if used on the long run will it effect the reproductivity of my testecals or sperm count or can it be harmful in any way?

  15. Hi Darlene,
    My husband and I are trying to conceive for the first time, however, I have been diagnosed with PCOS back in July 2011. I have not had a menstral cycle since september 11. My doctor put me on a medicine to bring on my menstral cycle.. but I don’t like the side effects that come with that. Would I have to take tribulus for 2-3 months straight in order to begin ovulating again?

    Thanks,
    Tammy

  16. Hi me and my wife have been trying to conceive for about two years now and i just found out my sperm count is low and my sperm motility is slow can tribulus help out with these problems thanks for your time.

  17. I quit taking oral birth control pills back in Oct and have not ovulated or had a period since. (No, I’m not pregnant, that is always the first question) I would just like to know what amount to take for my situation and if there is a limit on how long I should take it? For example, if it takes another 3-4 months of using tribulus before I finally ovulate, can I take it every day until then?

    Thanks!
    Aubrie

    • Hi Aubrie,

      Traditional Suggested Dosage of Tribulus terrestris
      Capsule: 500mg a day to start, working up to a 1500mg a day as needed.
      Liquid Extract: 3-5 mL, 2 times a day.

      For Women: Has been shown best to use from day 5-14 of the cycle, not past ovulation or during pregnancy.

      Best used for 3-6 months, but may be used longer if needed. Most women begin to ovulate within the first 2-3 cycles of use.

      Best Wishes,

      Dalene

  18. hi dalene,
    is it ok to take tribulus the whole cycle wiuth the combination of agnus cactus

    • Hi meriam,

      Tribulus is best taken prior to ovulation in the cycle, from days 5-14 (approximate). Vitex agnus-castus is best taken all month long, except during menstruation. Both Tribulus and Vitex have been shown safe to use at the same time.

      All the best,

      Dalene

  19. Hi Darlene,
    I found out earlier this year that had PCOS. My Dr. told me that I wasn’t ovulating and prescribed me birth control pills to aid in ovulating. I really don’t want to take birth control because there are just too many side effects. I’ve done research on various natural things I can take to promote ovulation. I am currently taking Vitex and Maca Root capsules (just started a week ago). I also ordered some pradrantak churna. Is it ok to take the three of these together? If not, what would you suggest I take? Also is Tribulus ok to take with the other herbs?

    My Dr. really didn’t give me much information on PCOS. So I’ve been doing research on PCOS and also trying to get my cycles and ovulation back on track. I had normal cycles up until about 3 months ago. Now I spot for 3-4 days only. I’m not looking to conceive right now, but I plan to within the next year or so and I want my body to be prepared.
    Please Help!!!! I am open to any suggestions.
    Thanks,
    Mesha

    • Hi Mesha,

      I am not familiar with the herbs in Pradrantak churna, as this is an Ayurvedic formulation and I am a western herbalist. I am not sure that it would be good to mix vitex with this. It is usually best to start off with only 1-2 herbs and see how your body reacts and responds to them. Tribulus has been shown safe to combine with vitex and maca. Diet changes are going to have the greatest impact on PCOS. There is no “cure” for PCOS, this is a syndrome that needs to be managed long-term. You can learn the remedies we feel are best for PCOS here: http://natural-fertility-info.com/pcos-fertility-diet

      Best Wishes,

      Dalene

  20. Hi Dalene
    I am 44 yrs old and am seeking another pregnancy. My FSH level is 10.0, Estradiol and LH are in normal range.
    I don’t have pcos problems and my uterus is healthy. Recently I found out that I have an Insulin resistance problem which may inhibit ovulation.
    My husband has a low sperm count but not the lowest – motility is fine – antibodies to sperm seem ok too. He’s been taking Tribulus for the last 6 months but in low dosage 500mg a day.
    I’ve been taking Agnus castus 400mg per day for the last 3 months to help ovulation and gymnema sylvestre 500mg per day for the Insulin resistant problem.

    I would like to combine Tribulus to these but would like to know what is the correct times to take Agnus castus in a month in combination with Tribulus which is from day 5 – 14.
    Many thanks
    Lori

  21. Hi,
    I ordered 625mg of Tribulus Terrestris Extract is this the same as the Fertillica? Also I have been taking Fertibella is Tribulus safe to take with this?

    • Hi Kimberly,

      Because there are so many different FertiBella products I cannot say if Tribulus is safe to combine with them or not. Please contact that company to ask if it is safe. Tribulus Terrestris extract is a liquid extract of the herb, our Fertilica Tribulus is a capsule of dried herb.

      All the best,

      Dalene

  22. is tribulus safe to take with dong quai?

  23. Hi Dalene

    I understand maca and vitex complement each other and tribulus can be combined with maca. However I would like to know if I can take vitex and tribulus together? I am taking maca everyday (with breakfast) and I am planning to resume taking vitex once my period is over (taken first thing in the morning) but now I would also like to also start taking tribulus from Day 5 until ovulation. Will all the herbs complement one another?
    Must tribulus be taken only after my period is over and discontinuing after ovulation or should I aim to start taking from Day 5 regardless of whether bleeding has completely stopped or not?

    • Hi Monica,

      Tribulus has been found to combine well with other herbs for fertility, including Vitex and Maca. Tribulus is best taken from after the period ends, up to ovulation. If you have long drawn-out cycles with scant bleeding at the end, Tribulus may be taken for those days of spotting at the end of the cycle.

      Best Wishes,

      Dalene

  24. I am wanting to buy tribulus for ovulation and for my husband to take for sperm quality. When and how often should we both take tribulus?

    • Hi Samantha,

      Traditional Suggested of the herb Tribulus terrestris:

      Capsule: 500mg a day to start, working up to a 1500mg a day as needed.
      Liquid Extract: 3-5 mL, 2 times a day.

      For Men: Has been shown best to use all month long, 3-6 months.
      For Women: Has been shown best to use from day 5-14 of the cycle, not past ovulation or during pregnancy.Traditional Suggested Dosage of Tribulus terrestris

      Capsule: 500mg a day to start, working up to a 1500mg a day as needed.
      Liquid Extract: 3-5 mL, 2 times a day.

      For Men: Has been shown best to use all month long, 3-6 months.
      For Women: Has been shown best to use from day 5-14 of the cycle, not past ovulation or during pregnancy.

      *Do NOT use Tribulus in pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

      Remember, this is general guidance.

      Best Wishes,

      Dalene

  25. Hi can I take tribulus and L-Arginine together? Is it safe? Arginine increases my sperm count but can I combine it with Tribulus?

  26. hi I was just wondering more about tribulus. I did buy some for my Husband and I to take and I’ve also heard u take from cd5- ovulation. is this true? also what is the best dosage to take? I can’t really find much info that I need on this online so I thought I would ask u. also does my husband just take it everyday? and if I follow the directions on the bottle and take 1 500mg pill 1 to 3 times a day is that good for me to help promote natural ovulation?

    • Hi Mandi,

      For both men and women our Fertilica Tribulus herbal dietary supplement suggested usage is 1 capsule 1-3 times daily as needed prior to meals. Starting at the lowest dosage and working up as needed; listen to your body. Men may need to start at a higher dosage because they weigh more. If you are trying to conceive it is best to use prior to ovulation, in case of pregnancy.

      Best Wishes,

      Dalene

  27. My husband and I were reading about vitamins/herbs he could take to improve his sperm mobility and he thought that Tribulus, L-Carnitine and CoQ10 sounded good. Can all of these be taken together? We saw that they are included together in the Male Fertility Cleanse, but would like to buy them separately. If so, what dosage would you recommend…the general dosage on the bottle stated for each?

    Thank you.

    • Hi Rachel,

      Yes, all of those have been shown safe to combine. Please follow the recommended dosage on the bottle.

      Best Wishes,

      Dalene

  28. Hi
    I just hade my FSH levels tested and it came back at 18 (was 55 last July)
    just wondering if I can use tribulus? My acpuncturist said to take 2 capsules per day from cd 5 to ovulation.
    I’m a little concerned as from what I’ve read tribulus increases FSH???

    • Hi Debbie,

      Tribulus may increase serum FSH in some women, but not all, so you may want to reconsider. I think it is good that you are working with your acupuncturist and it is better to work closely with a practitioner that can monitor your progress and adjust accordingly, that is a much higher quality of care as opposed to advice from the internet. An practitioner like your acupuncturist knows your health history, I don’t.

      Best Wishes,

      Dalene