A rather common menstrual disorder that we get asked about is anovulation, which means the absence of ovulation. An anovulatory cycle occurs as a result of a disruption in the communication of the hormones necessary to support the release of a mature egg. When ovulation does not happen, there is no mature egg released and pregnancy cannot occur (during that cycle).
Ovulation is a process that can be easily affected by a number of things including stress and distress, illness and infections, diet, extreme shifts in weight and exercise routines, breastfeeding, fertility issues and hormone imbalances, pituitary or thyroid problems, and even travel. There are five key herbs that help to regulate ovulation through hormone balance support by nourishing the endocrine system and improving the body’s ability to handle stress. All women should know about these 5 herbs…
1. Tribulus (Tribulus terrestris) is an antioxidant rich nourishing tonic* for the entire female reproductive system with an affinity for the ovaries and their proper function. Tribulus has been found to promote ovulation when used prior to ovulation. Studies have found that Tribulus produces marked increases in FSH and estradiol levels in women, which may result in an increase in the number of maturing follicles in the ovaries.
2. Vitex or Chaste Tree Berry (Vitex agnus-castus) is known to have an effect on the hormonal feedback loop, normalizing the entire menstrual cycle including ovulation. Vitex in part supports the body’s natural ability to produce luteinizing hormone (LH) which is the hormone that causes ovulation to occur.
3. Maca (Lepidium meyenii) supports hormone balance by providing nourishment (vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients) to the endocrine system, the system that coordinates the communication and delivery of our hormones. In supporting the health of the endocrine system, hormone balance and the entire menstrual cycle is supported.
4. Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) is yet another female reproductive system tonic*. Shatavari is thought to be able to help regulate estrogen in the body and in doing so may contribute to menstrual cycle regulation. Shatavari also supports healthy cervical mucus production, stress-related infertility issues, and combines well with Tribulus.
5. Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) has been shown to have androgen-regulating effects, one of the most well-known androgens is testosterone. In regulating androgens, Saw Palmetto may help stimulate suppressed ovulation by promoting healthy testosterone levels and encouraging the body to release luteinizing hormone (LH), which is the hormone that causes ovulation to occur.
While Tribulus, Vitex, Maca, Shatavari, and Saw Palmetto prove to have a supportive role in regulating ovulation, it is important to first address the cause of anovulation. These five herbs have a number of different benefits supportive of fertility and many complement each other. Speak with your natural health care provider or herbalist about how they may support you.
*One note… an herb referred to as a reproductive system “tonic” means this herb has the potential to induce overall well-being, a sense of vigor or to be invigorating… to “wake up” the reproductive system.
- Romm, A. (2010) Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health. Churchill Livingstone.
- Alfs, M. 300 Herbs; Their Indications and Contraindications. OTBH. New Brighton, MN. (2003)
- Barton, D. (n.d.) Saw Palmetto for Improved Male & Female Fertility. Retrieved from: http://natural-fertility-info.com/saw-palmetto-fertility.html
- Barton, D. (n.d.) Shatavari: Fertility Herb from India. Retrieved from: http://natural-fertility-info.com/shatavari-fertility.html
- Barton, D. (n.d.) Tribulus Terrestris: Fertility Herb for Both Men and Women…. Retrieved from: http://natural-fertility-info.com/tribulus-fertility.html
- Rodriguez, H. (n.d.) Vitex… Fertility Super Herb?. Retrieved from: http://natural-fertility-info.com/vitex
- Sir P, T. (1997). Do androgens modulate luteinizing hormone secretion in women?. Revista médica de Chile. 125. 710-8. Retrieved from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/51311840_Do_androgens_modulate_luteinizing_hormone_secretion_in_women
- Zheleva-Dimitrova, D. Obreshkova, D. & Nedialkov, P. (2012) Antioxidant Activity of Tribulus Terrestris – A Natural Product of Infertility Therapy. Retrieved from: http://www.ijppsjournal.com/Vol4Issue4/4880.pdf