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When Should You Stop Taking Fertility Herbs?

When Should You Stop Taking Fertility Herbs?

Are you confused about when to take fertility herbs and supplements? Some of the most frequent questions we receive at Natural Fertility are:

  • “Should I take this herb/supplement all month long?”
  • “Should I stop taking this herb/supplement during my period?”
  • “Can I take my fertility herbs while I am on the Fertility Cleanse?”
  • “When should I stop taking fertility herbs and supplements?”
  • “Which herbs/supplements can I take or stop once I get pregnant?”

Fertility Supplement QuestionsThere seems to be much confusion about when to take fertility herbs and when not to. I hope this post helps to clear up any questions you have and empowers you to listen to your body so you can see what is right for you.

One of the reasons it can be confusing is because of how the hormonal system works. During part of the month one hormone is high and during another it drops, and a different hormone is high. It is an intricate symphony of hormones and reactions… hormones acting as the conductor, letting the body know when to release the egg, start growing the lining or when to start the period.

Many herbs that are used to help promote and support fertility have some effect on the endocrine system. For example, Vitex is a popular and effective herb that nourishes and helps the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis. Through this, it has been shown to increase progesterone, lengthen a short luteal phase, and boost overall fertility. The actions of the herbs and supplements must be taken into account when determining how they should be used.

In this article, I am going to address the top four questions previously mentioned. The range of supplements and herbs mentioned in this article are by no means all of the herbs and supplements out there. I cover the most common herbs and supplements as well as all of the supplements/herbs supported on our website. If you are using a product and are confused about when to use it and if it is safe for pregnancy, contact the manufacturer of that supplement and ask them directly, so you can get the best advice for that particular product.

Should Fertility Supplements and Herbs Be Taken All Month Long?

There is no one answer across the board for all fertility supplements and herbs. Each is used differently and for different reasons. Most Fertility Herbs and Supplements are suggested to be used all month long, for consecutive months for the best results. Instead of going through each and every herb and supplement, I will cover the herbs or supplements that should not be used all month long and the reason for this.

Evening Primrose Oil
Evening Primrose Oil is a nutritious oil that is traditionally used to help increase cervical mucous. Suggested usage is 1500mg of this oil from day one of your cycle (menstruation) until ovulation. It should not be taken after ovulation when trying to conceive, as it has been shown to promote contractions of the uterus.

Dong Quai
Dong Quai works by promoting blood flow to the pelvis where it will stimulate an absent or scanty period. It also nourishes the blood (it is in nearly all Chinese herbal blood-building formulas) and treats iron deficiency and anemia. One of its best uses is helping women who are not menstruating to invite their menstruation back. The increased circulation also helps to strengthen and balance the uterus. In rat studies, it has been show to help build the uterus lining.

I generally suggest Dong Quai to be used before trying to conceive so one can get the full benefit by taking it all month long except during menstruation. Once the period has come back, then you can focus on trying to conceive. If Dong Quai is being used during the month while trying to conceive, it is best to stop using it once you have ovulated and discontinue use during your period. If Dong Quai is part of a blend, it will not be as potent and not have such a strong effect. Dong Quai is a known uterine contractor so it should be avoided if you think you are pregnant, during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

Progesterone Cream
Progesterone cream is used to help balance estrogen dominance or help with low progesterone issues. Progesterone must be used very specifically so your cycle is helped, not disturbed. Dr. John Lee recommends that Progesterone cream should only be used after ovulation and discontinued once menstruation has returned. If you find out you are pregnant, you should continue on the progesterone and speak with your health care provider right away so your hormone levels can be monitored and progesterone usage adjusted as needed. Stopping progesterone once you are pregnant is dangerous as it may cause your progesterone levels to drop at a time that they should be increasing daily.

If progesterone is used before ovulation, it can cause ovulation to be suppressed. Charting is one of the best ways to know when you are ovulating. If you do not have a menstrual cycle or are not ovulating, Dr. Lee suggested to mimic a 28-day cycle by using progesterone cream, helping to jump start the cycle again. You can learn more about progesterone use for fertility here…

Slow Flow
Slow Flow is an herbal formula designed to help a menstrual cycle that is very heavy. Slow Flow uses astringent herbs, uterine tonics, and nutrients to support normal menstrual flow, and is to be used on heavy bleeding days. Heavy bleeding is technically defined as having to change protection more than every two hours. Suggested usage for Slow Flow is three capsules every three to four hours during heavy menstrual blood loss. Up to 6 capsules may be taken daily for longer-term management, but no longer than three months. So to reiterate, Slow Flow should only be used during the period.

Should You Take Fertility Herbs or Supplements During Your Period?

Yes and no. It all depends on the herb or supplement you are using. There are specific herbs and supplements that should NOT be used during your period such as:

Progesterone Cream
Progesterone cream should be discontinued as soon as you get your period. This is a time that the body naturally decreases its progesterone.

Dong Quai
Unless you have a really slow flow or non-existent flow, Dong Quai should not be used during menstruation. The reason for this is that Dong Quai increases circulation to the uterus; during menstruation this could cause heavier bleeding than normal.

In the past I have generally suggested that women stop using vitex during menstruation, but over time, through years of working with vitex with many, many clients, I have come to find vitex works best when taken all month long.

Every herb will react differently for each person. Some women do better by taking herbs all month long, while others benefit from taking a break during their menstrual cycle, giving the body a chance to cleanse itself and rest.

So my answer is go with your intuition and see how it works for you. Yes, I know it is not very scientific, but there is no one answer that fits all. I generally suggest a break during menstruation if you are taking the herbs for months on end, as it is a good idea to give the body a break.

Can I Take My Fertility Herbs While I Am On the Fertility Cleanse?

During the Fertility Cleanse it is best to only be doing the Fertility Cleanse and not using any other fertility herbs. The reason for this is that the Fertility Cleanse is using a blend of many different herbs to help balance and cleanse your body. Adding additional hormonal herbs to this may be too much. There are some exceptions though. If you have been using fertility herbs prior to the Fertility Cleanse, then you may continue using them. And nutritional supplements are fine to take during the Fertility Cleanse.

Kits and natural fertility programs are best started directly after the Fertility Cleanse has been completed. On the other hand, superfoods can be used during the Fertility Cleanse.

It is best to not try and conceive the month that you are doing the Fertility Cleanse because many of the herbs in the Fertility Cleanse should not be used while you are pregnant.

When Should I Stop Taking Fertility Herbs and Supplements?

If you are taking hormonal medications, birth control or any other type of medicated hormonal treatment, it would be best to not mix them with fertility herbs. We do not know what the effects are since there have been no studies done yet. We do not know if maca or vitex (or other hormonal regulating herbs) will interact negatively with Clomid or IVF medications. So to be on the safe side, it is best to not mix the two.

If you are going to use medically-assisted treatments it is best to only use herbs and supplements in preparation, before hormonal medications and injections are being used. There are a couple of supplements that you will want to talk to your doctor about such as a prenatal multivitamin and essential fatty acids (just to make sure) if you are getting a medically assisted treatment.

Another time to discontinue use of fertility herbs and supplements is once you become pregnant. We go into depth about this in the section that follows.

Which Herbs and Supplements Can I Take or Should I Stop Once I Become Pregnant?
Most fertility herbs and supplements should be discontinued once you find out you are pregnant (this of course is referring to all the herbs and supplements not mentioned above with specific warnings).That means once you take a pregnancy test and get a positive. There are some fertility supplements and herbs that could be used during pregnancy under the guidance of a health practitioner or doctor who is familiar with these therapies such as:

When it comes to pregnancy it is best and safest to focus on eating an incredibly healthy diet. This is the safest and most important way to provide nourishment, present and future health for your growing baby.

I hope this article helped to clear up some of the questions you may have had. When in doubt, just ask the manufacturer of the product you are using and they can let you know how to correctly use the product and if it is safe during pregnancy.


Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN
Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN

Dr. Traxler is a University-trained obstetrician/gynecologist, working with patients in Minnesota for over 20 years. She is a professional medical writer; having authored multiple books on pregnancy and childbirth; textbooks and coursework for medical students and other healthcare providers; and has written over 1000 articles on medical, health, and wellness topics.  Dr. Traxler attended the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences and University of Minnesota Medical School,  earning a degree in biochemistry with summa cum laude honors in 1981,  and receiving her Medical Doctorate degree (MD) in 1986.

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  1. Avatar

    I have a question about evening primrose oil. I have very irregular periods, can go 10 months without one so I went to a hollistic doctor. It helped for a while and 2 of the things that contributed was taking vitex days 14-28 and then seed cycling. Have you heard of seed cycling? Almost every website, and my doctor at the time says to take evening primrose oil days 14-28 (as part of seed cycling) but here you list the exact opposite. Do you have any idea why there would be such a difference in opinion? I am trying to conceive and want to make sure I am taking everything at the right times! Thank you!

    • Dear Jessica,

      There are a variety of schools of thought and ways of using herbs/natural therapies. Evening Primrose Oil isn’t included in our seed cycling protocol. See our guide Seed Cycling: Should You Try It for Your Menstrual Cycle?.

      About Evening Primrose Oil:
      General use of Evening Primrose Oil is 1500 – 3000 mg one to two times daily. Beginning at the lowest suggested use, and then increasing suggested use over time, as necessary.

      While Actively Trying to Conceive: General usage of Evening Primrose 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.

      I can’t dispute your holistic doctor’s advice or what worked for you. It is when you begin actively trying to conceive that EPO is best only used up until ovulation.

  2. Avatar

    Hi. My ob recommend me to take althea pills for 3 months to regulate my cycle. I’m also taking korgivit e which contains bee pollen, Korean ginseng, and vitamin e. While on pills my cycle is regular but after taking it for 3 months there’s no period yet. I’m thinking of taking herbal supplements. Is it safe to take dong quai and vitex to those TTC? Thanks

    Btw. I was diagnosed with PCOS. I’m so stressed how to get back my period after failed medications

    • Dear Marinelle,

      I am sorry! I see too often when things does goes as hoped/expected when taking medications to try to restart menstruation with PCOS. We feel that in most cases, PCOS is best first approached with dietary and lifestyle changes, whether trying medication or not. It is when diet and lifestyle that herbs can be most effective. I think our best resource for learning more about this is the guide
      How to Reduce the Damaging Effects of PCOS on Fertility Through Diet and Herbs.

      Vitex and DongQuai can be taken while ttc, but I would first suggest reviewing the guide above.

  3. Avatar

    im visiting my family and i ost all my fertility meds cause i left them on the plane so basically im off them cold turkey and im losing my mind cause im horribly depressed and when im not crying i feel like doing so… the only med ive been able to get to help me was a early refill of my antipsychotic of perphenazine that i take for schizoaffective disorder and ptsd due to military sexual trauma… i dont know what to do

    • Dear Jamie,

      I’m sorry! Gosh, how hard…

      Have you tried to get in to see a doctor where you are staying for support. Perhaps they will be able to help you get your meds filled or have tips for you. I do think that would truly be best!

      Take care!

  4. Avatar

    I have been trying to conceive for over a year, at first I wasn’t charting my ovulation but now I am for the past 6 months but still nothing. I recently found out during an ultrasound that I had an ovarian cyst on my right ovary and my ob doesn’t think I am ovulating when I get it, and that I have too much estrogen and not enough progesterone. I heard about vitex and did some research and read many successful stories of conception after taking it. My question is I just got my bottle and I’m on my 2nd day of my cycle should I start taking it now 2x’s a day or do I wait until my cycle is over?

    • Dear Shanyell,

      Fertilica Vitex can be started at any time of the menstrual cycle and used all cycle long without taking a break. This way of use proves to show the best results for our clients. Vitex needs to be used for a minimum of 3 months consecutively and consistently for most to see full results. We also know that Vitex is most effective when diet and lifestyle are optimal. So, consider learning about a Fertility Diet and beginning to make changes in this area as well.

  5. Avatar

    It took us a while to conceive, but we conceived and had our baby 3 weeks ago. We want to tcc again and would like to prepare my body for it. So, when can I start to take Vitex? (I am breast feeding). Thank you.

  6. Avatar

    Hello, I’m taking Vitex because I was not ovulating, last cicle I ovulated and I stopped taking Vitex after ovulation day, I didn’t get pregnant so I began taking Vitex after my menstruation ended and I’m planning to stop after ovulation day again, am I doing the right thing? I’m not sure. Please some advice

  7. Avatar

    Thank you for this article! I have been trying to conceive my second child for about 16 months. I experienced a miscarriage about 7 months ago at 7 weeks gestation. I conceived that time right after weaning my first child at 13 months. I have been to a chiropractor a few times to work on balancing my cycle. I have a fairly regular cycle 28-30 days with positive ovulation test between days 14-16. The chiropractor suggested that my eggs might not be mature enough at ovulation. I recently purchased an herbal blend including Vitex, tribulus, maca, red raspberry leaf among others to try to mature my eggs. Can I use progesterone cream with those herbs to prevent another miscarriage?

    • Dear Emily,

      I am sorry to hear about your loss!

      Natural progesterone cream can be used with an herbal blend containing Vitex, Tribulus, Maca and Red Raspberry leaf, as well as other herbs, BUT we suggest assuring progesterone levels are low prior to using natural progesterone cream. I think you will also appreciate the tips in our guide 5 Steps To Decreasing the Chance of Recurrent Miscarriages.

      I hope this is all helpful!

  8. Avatar

    I’ve been taking Vitex for the past 2 months and Maca for the past month. This cycle we’re trying again naturally, but if we don’t succeed, I’m scheduled to use Clomid and Ovidrel for an IUI next cycle. How soon should I stop taking Vitex and Maca before starting the Clomid? Should I wean myself off the Vitex?

  9. Avatar

    I have irregular cycles and have not ovulated yet. I have been taking Dong Quai for one month and Vitex for three weeks. But since Dong Quai may act like estrogen and Vitex supports progesterone, wouldn’t that make both my levels of estrogen and progesterone high since I haven’t ovulated? Would it cause both hormones to be high and prevent ovulation?

  10. Avatar

    Can I take prenatal vitamins with herbs such as Vitex and Dong Quai?

  11. Avatar

    Can milk thistle be taken with dong quai, vitex, and red raspberry leaf?

  12. Avatar

    Can I take Dong Quai and Vitex together? What’s the recommended daily dosage for each?

    • Dear Summer,

      Fertilica Vitex and Dong Quai can be taken together. General suggested use of Vitex is 900-1000mg daily all month long and of Dong Quai, daily suggested use is 30 drops, 2 times a day in a little water.

  13. Avatar

    How long does it take for Dong Quai to work?

    • Dear Summer,

      In general we find Dong Quai is rather fast acting. With that however, it is rarely all that a woman takes or uses to support a healthy menstrual cycle.

  14. Avatar

    I started taking Dong Quai to start my period, I’m currently on CD 60. I went off the pill in October of last year. This is my third cycle since coming off of it. I started taking Dong Quai on CD 53 and started bleeding the next day (thought it was AF) and just lightly spotted after that until CD 56 and started bleeding like AF again then it stopped. I haven’t had any bleeding or spotting since. Does that count as my period?

  15. Avatar

    Can I take Dong Quai if I haven’t ovulated?

  16. Avatar

    I came off BC in November 2016 and had two consecutive cycles and I am now on my third cycle on CD 49 and have not ovulated. I am currently taking red raspberry leaf. Can I take Dong Quai to start my period or will it make me ovulate? Will it keep me from ovulating?

  17. Avatar

    hi ,
    i’am 22 and I have been diagnose with PCOS and acne dont go away I tried birth control pills, provera, metformin and remefemin still my period is not heavy as I expected, I experience dismenorrhea during my flow in most cases I only consume 1 pad a day and on the following days 1 pad again then the flow gets fewer and fewer so I think isn’t good. I want to try vitex for my problem so I want to know how to take regularly, the dose a day and how long will I use. thank you for your immediate response

    • Dear Aira,

      Dysmenorrhea is painful menstruation. Do you have painful periods? Regarding healthy menstruation, the usual range of a healthy cycle is between 21 and 35 days with menstruation lasting 3-5 days. It can be normal for a period to start a bit heavier and taper off. As long as bleeding is bright red, there are few small to no clots and it is pain free, there may not be cause for concern.

      General suggested use of Vitex is 900-1000mg daily each day of the menstrual cycle without taking a break. With that, there is more to consider with PCOS. Consider learning important information in this article titled How to Reduce the Damaging Effects of PCOS on Fertility Through Diet and Herbs.

      It is important to support your body in re-learning balance by promoting healthy hormonal balance, a healthy uterine lining, regular ovulation, improved estrogen metabolism, reduced cravings for sweets and improved digestion all of which you will learn how to do in the article above.

      I hope this is helpful!

    • Avatar

      thank you Ms. Elizabeth,

      yes I have painful periods, where do I shuold start taking vitex? and how long should I take and what do you mean without taking a break? is this safe if I take during menstruation? aside from this Im taking glutathione pill for my own desire and maybe my acne will gone soon, can you help me about my acne problem? and also Im taking ferousulfate for iron deficiency is these drugs can create complications or bad reaction with my healing process? thank you

    • Dear Aria,

      You are welcome!

      Vitex is best taken every day for many months in a row, even during a period… without taking a break.

      Vitex may be helpful with acne as well. Acne can also be associated with PCOS, so I hope the dietary and lifestyle changes you choose (from the article I shared in my last reply) will prove helpful as well. They may also help with painful periods. We suggest limiting caffeine, alcohol, sugar, white flower and inflammatory foods consumption. Many of these things can also contribute acne.

      My best!

  18. Avatar

    Hello dear,
    I am 39 and I have been ttc since 2013, I have had 3 ivfs, 2 with own eggs and 1 with DE. No positive result. In the process to know the reasons of the negative results, I was told I have an enlarge uterus (adenomyosis).
    I have been trying own supplements (vitex, evening oil, dong quai, and Dim) but to now to result. This month, I had a very light menstral period with almost no blood flow. I have only one ovary which I was told is also blocked.
    What would you recommend for me to help get positive result as I am planning to do another cycle of ivf again?