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Interactions Between Fertility Herbs & Medications

Interactions Between Fertility Herbs & Medications

Did you know that there can be interactions between fertility herbs and medications? Are you someone who is currently taking fertility medications, but desire to try a more natural approach to healing your fertility issues? Before you embark on a natural fertility health plan, wouldn’t it be helpful to know if it is safe to combine fertility medications with herbs and supplements for fertility?

Perhaps you are frustrated with your natural fertility journey, about ready to give up, you are considering trying out some fertility medications, but are unsure if it is safe to continue on with natural remedies you are currently taking. Maybe the worry is that prescription medications you are taking for other health conditions may interact with herbs for fertility. Is it really safe to combine medications with herbs? How can you make smart choices regarding your fertility while you are taking prescribed medications? I hope to cover all those topics for you, providing information on popular fertility medications and their possible drug interactions.

Video: Interactions Between Fertility Herbs & Medications

Natural remedies are often sought out once health problems feel out-of-control, after we have tried medications and nothing our doctor prescribes is working. It’s not surprising that natural remedies are not the first thing that comes to mind in our society. We don’t really see ads sharing the benefits of an herbal remedy on TV. But just about every other commercial is about some sort of ailment and the medication that can help you with that problem. You know the ads, the ones with the 30 second blurb at the end about the numerous side effects of using the medication, spoken so quickly and quietly you can barely make out what they are saying. In 2004, the Center for Disease Control released its findings on how many prescription drugs the average American was taking. The number is 12 per person in America. That is a lot of medications.

Making Smart Choices When Combining Fertility Herbs with Medications

I already take medications for fertility; is it okay to take herbs for fertility?
We never suggest combining herbs for fertility with medications for fertility. This is because most herbs for fertility have the ability to affect key hormones without actually containing hormones themselves. Because of this, herbs for fertility have the potential to affect how fertility medications are working in your body. Usually when a person has chosen to take a fertility medication, they are investing a lot of thought, time and commitment to the treatment, as well as sometimes a lot of money. There is a lot of emotion and hopes riding on the choice of using the medications; the hope of getting pregnant.

Would you want to risk your chances of conception by possibly messing up how the drugs you are taking are working in your body? This is especially important when considering IVF. It is never a good idea to take fertility herbs once you begin your medications for IVF. Taking fertility herbs while you are taking medications for IVF may alter the outcome of your IVF. It would be very disappointing to possibly affect your ability to become pregnant. Prepare in advance of taking medications for fertility. Make a natural fertility plan at least 3-6 months before beginning medications for fertility.

If you want to take herbs for fertility, wait at least a couple of weeks to one month after discontinuing the medications, before beginning your natural health plan. This will give your body some time to cleanse the medication from your system. Fertility Cleansing may also aid your body in additional cleansing of excess hormones.

This information applies to birth control as well. If you are on birth control, we do not suggest using herbs for fertility, as they may affect how the birth control works, which may lead to an unwanted pregnancy.

Is it okay to begin fertility medications like Clomid or Provera while continuing my herbs for fertility?
No. We do not recommend using any herbs for fertility during a fertility medication cycle. A cycle is about one month, or one menstrual cycle. Even if you are using a fertility medication for only one part of your cycle, we do not suggest using any herbs for fertility during other times in that same cycle.

Plan ahead. If you are thinking of starting a fertility medication, make your doctor appointment for about a month after weaning yourself off of the herbs you are taking. Continuing a multivitamin would be fine.

Can I combine fertility herbs with my medications for my other health problems? For example: heart, cholesterol, thyroid, diabetes, seizure medications.
This really depends on the medication you are on, and what fertility herb you are interested in taking. Because doctors are not usually familiar with herbs and herbalists are not familiar with medications, it can be difficult to find the answer. It is important to have open communication with your doctor, let them know the herbs you are interested in, as well as any supplements. Ask them their opinion. Do your own research. Search out an herbalist in your area if need be. Doing your homework beforehand will help you to avoid an adverse reaction between the two.

Many times you will come to find that it is fine to continue on with some herbs and supplements for fertility while also continuing your medications.

Can I take fertility herbs while also using Medical Marijuana?
There are no known interactions with fertility herbs and medical marijuana.

Fertility Herbs and Known Medication Interactions

The following is a list of common fertility herbs and known medications that they may react negatively with. This list is not complete and new information is surfacing each year. This is meant to be used for general information. Please always check with your doctor prior to beginning any herbs or supplements if you take prescription medications or over-the-counter medications regularly. The interactions may mean they exacerbate the effectiveness of the medication or inhibit/reduce its action.

Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa)
*Estrogens, oral contraceptives, anti-hyperlipidemics (lipid lowering drugs).

Borage Oil (Borago officinalis)
*Anxiolytics (anxiety drugs), anticoagulants (blood thinning drugs).

Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis)
*Anticoagulants, estrogens, calcium channel blockers, beta-blockers, antiarrhythmics.

Evening Primrose Oil (Oenothera biennis)
*Phenothiazines (found in many antipsychotics, antihistamines), anticonvulsants (seizure), NSAIDs, corticosteroids (steroid hormones), beta-blockers (heart med.), anticoagulants.

Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)
*Anticoagulant, antiplatelet, anticonvulsants, antidepressants

Ginseng (Panax ginseng)
*Hypoglycemics, diuretics, Digoxin (digitalis heart med.), antidepressants, anticoagulants, estrogens, corticosteroids, calcium channel blockers, cardiac glycosides, methyldopa, phenothiazines, spironolactone.

Licorice Rt. (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
*Spironolactone (antidiuretic, antiandrogen), cardiac glycosides, thiazide diuretics, corticosteroids, cyclosporine (immunosuppressant, organ transplant), monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs for short, antidepressant), oral contraceptives, hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)
*Anticoagulants

Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens)
*Prescription iron, estrogens

Seaweeds, especially kelp, wakame
*Thyroid hormones

Siberian Ginseng (Elutherococcus senticosis)
*Digitalis (heart med.)

Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus)
*Dopamine receptor antagonists

Fertility Supplements and Known Medication Interactions

Systemic Enzyme Therapy
*Anticoagulants, heart medications, NSAID’s.

L-Arginine
*Heart medications, erectile dysfunction medications.

L-Carnitine
*Thyroid medications, anticonvulsants.

Natural Progesterone Cream
*Prometrium (synthetic progesterone, may compete for receptor sites, create too much progesterone in the body), oral contraceptives, HRT.

It is Better to be Safe Than Sorry

Be sure that you are planning ahead. Prior to taking medications for fertility, medications for existing health issues, or herbs for fertility, talk to your health care provider. You would not mix or combine medications without first consulting your doctor/naturopath; be sure you do the same with herbs and supplements.

Here are some safety tips…
1. Research herbs you are interested in thoroughly prior to use. Ask your doctor, naturopath or local herbalist questions prior to beginning herbs for fertility.
2. Make a 3-6-month plan, write it down. Include medications you are currently taking, medications you are considering, and herbs/supplements you are taking or are interested in.
3. Never combine herbs for fertility with medications for fertility.
4. Give your body a 2 week to 1 month break between fertility medication use and fertility herb use.
5. Do not exceed suggested dosage for herbs; the same goes for medications as well.

References

  • Romm, A. J. (2010). Botanical medicine for womens health. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.
  • U of M health system providers. (n.d.). University of Michigan Health System – Basic list of drug-herb interactions. Retrieved from med.umich.edu/1libr/aha/umherb01.htm

Dalene Barton-Schuster - Certified Herbalist, Birth Doula

Practicing natural health and herbalism for over 18 years, Dalene received her training and herbal certification under the guidance of Lynn Albers at Yarmony Mt. Herbal College in Colorado in 2000. She went on to become a Certified Birth Doula at Birthingway College of Midwifery in Portland, Oregon in 2007. As a Birth Doula, Dalene has helped to bring many new lives in to this world. Dalene has written 280+ fertility articles and with her vast array of herbal and holistic healing knowledge has helped 1000’s of women on their journey to Motherhood.

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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[-] 35 Comments
  1. Hi there!
    I was just wondering if I can take Vitex with Propranolol also known as Inderal.

    Thanks!

  2. Hello,
    Can I take Vitex, EPO, maca and myo-inositol together? Thank you!

  3. My husband has low sperm count, he has been prescribed clomid, is clomid safe to take with ashwagandha?

  4. Very helpful article! I am 34 years old and TTC. I am currently taking a multivitamin(Adult centrum gummies) in the morning, using maca root powder, and drinking red raspberry leaf tea.. I want to begin taking Omega-3, B-complex, and CoQ10 supplements, in addition to Myo-Inositol to help boost my fertility. Any advice on a supplement taking schedule? Thank you.

    • Dear Rachel,

      It will be best to take the supplements as suggested by the manufacturer of those you purchase. Beyond that sitting down to write out a plan is the best supplement taking schedule advice I can give. If instructions say something like take 1-2 daily with food, and you choose to take 2 each day, then these would be planned with two different meals, do split up the dose.

      We also support and suggest taking whole food multivitamins. I do understand the ease of a gummy, but it’s best to choose any vitamin sourced/made from food (if possible). Two to learn more about are Fertile Woman One Daily or the brand MegaFood (there are others I am sure as well…).

  5. Hello, thank you for this article.
    I am still uncertain though, if my FSH levels are high, is it ok to take Tribulus along with Vitex and Dong Quai?

  6. Hi,
    I am 39 years old with DOR, and am taking a break after a failed IUI and an unsuccessful egg retrieval for IVF. My doctor doesn’t seem to have any issues with me taking supplements while I am NOT on fertility meds.
    So, I just started taking a bunch of suggested supplements for egg health and fertility. Can you tell me if these are safe to take together? Vitamin D3, Maca, Ubiquinol, Wheatgrass (pills), Krill Oil, L-Arginine, DHEA, Melatonin, Probiotic, and Pre-Natal Vitamin.
    Thank You!

    • Hello Katie!

      Yes, vitamin D3, Maca, Ubiquinol, wheatgrass (pills), krill oil, L-Arginine, a probiotic, and pre-natal multivitamin can be taken together.

      While they can also be taken with DHEA and melatonin, both of these are hormones naturally produced by the body and suggested with caution over the counter. Our stance is this on the use of OTC hormone supplements… If you are thinking about taking melatonin or DHEA to boost your fertility, you should discuss the issue with your healthcare provider or fertility specialist.

      Consider learning more from our guides:
      DHEA and Your Natural Fertility
      The Role of Melatonin and the Circadian Rhythm in Female Reproduction

  7. I was told about Red Clover and how great it works and worked for her. I did about 4 cycles of clomid but hated the way it made me feel, so they changed me to femara (letrozole) this past month. I am wondering if it is safe to take the red clover I just got with the letrozole? I have seen mixed messages in reference to herbs and fertility drugs.

    I intend to discuss with my OBGYN at my upcoming appointment, but thought I would ask since not sure she will know much about red clover with the drugs.

    Thanks

    • Hi Heather!

      While Red Clover is highly nutritious and used mostly in this way by herbalists, we can not suggest its combination with Femara unless your doctor approves. It is great that you will be talking to your Ob/Gyn and if you’d like, you can print and take with you our guide Red Clover: Fertility Herb and Tonic for him/her to see.

  8. Hello, I was wondering about the safety of taking spironolactone with bioidentical progesterone cream to help regulate periods that may be altered with spironolactone.

  9. Hello, thank you for the article and video.
    What herbs/supplements interact with Clomid? I am going to start taking it when I get my next period (c.14-21 days away). I think DongQuai and Vitex are the main ones so as of today I have stopped Vitex & tomorrow dongquai.
    I take Maca, dongquai, oil evening primrose, l-ariginine, CO-Q10, Shatavari, Tribulus, Royal Jelly, Bee Pollen, vitamin B complex, zinc, brown seaweed, spirulina, super green, vitamin d, folic acid.
    Please will you tell me which of these I can keep taking? I have researched and think that zinc, folic acid, vitamin B&D, CO-Q10, super greens are fine but the rest I am not sure about. Please will you help?
    Thank you so much 🙂

    • Dear Natasha,

      We’re grateful this has been helpful! It is best not to combine herbs with Clomid, including Royal Jelly and Evening Primrose Oil. So, unless your doctor suggests otherwise, we have to suggest stopping Maca, Vitex, Dong Quai, Tribulus, Shatavari and Royal Jelly and Evening Primrose Oil. Herbs and supplements that act on the hormonal system could affect how your medications are working. It is best to only use herbs in preparation beforehand and not mix the two.

  10. Hi, I am taking 25 mg hypothyroid medication . My doctor does not have any idea of fertility cleanse. She was not helpful to answer my question. Can I do fertility cleanse and take my thyroid pill at the same time?

  11. Hi, I just started taking Letrozole, and also take Rhodiola to lower cortisol. I stopped taking all of my herbs that might effect hormones, namely Maca & Rhodiola, but I am wondering if I can continue taking Rhodiola?

  12. I would like to know if the herbs I am taking are all safe to take together. Royal Jelly, Vitex Berry, Dong Quai root, Red Clover, Raspberry Leaf, and a whole food prenatal vitamin. I had a pregnancy in October that resulted in a miscarriage at 10 weeks. I am getting my body back in shape for another try in June. I have been taking these all together since January. I haven’t had any bad effects but I just wanted to make sure.

    Thank you

  13. I am currently on Northendrone to suppress my stage 4 endometriosis. Can I do the fertility cleanse while on this medication. If I can’t, what are the reasons?

    • Elizabeth Willett, MA, CH

      Dear Nichol,
      We do not advise doing a Fertility Cleanse if you are currently already on fertility medications (including birth control) or undergoing a procedure. You should not combine herbs with your medications. Herbs that act on the hormonal system could affect how your medications are working.

  14. 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!

  15. Can I take Prometrium (progesterone drug) while taking Maca, Wobenzyme, and Thyrophem, for fertility? I have low progesterone and my doctor does not want me using the progesterone creams because she says they are hard to measure and she wants to ensure I am getting the right dosage.

  16. This is really useful. Do you happen to know of any interactions between fertility herbs and drugs for Rheumatoid Arthritis? I’m not sure of the herbs, my herbalist’s English is very poor so sorry I can’t be specific. I’m assuming they’re the common ones listed above. The RA drugs I’m on are salazopyrin, predisone, plaquenil and Enbrel injection.

  17. Hi,

    I recently ordered a male and female fertility cleanse but there aren’t any instructions on what kind of foods to avoid? and what foods are best to take during the cleanse?. Please advise

    I take allergy tablets citrizine chloride every other day as I suffer from Idiopathic Urticaria, can i still use the fertility cleanse.

    Kind Regards

  18. Hi .First I tell you that this is my favorite website. Can i take the candida detox and bio-5 probiotic blend with levothyroxine, omega3, evening primrose oil, flax seed oil, multivitamins, antioxidants and Aciclovir. Thank you.

    • Hi Jay,

      I am glad you like the website! Candida Detox is fine to take with probiotics, omega-3, EPO, flax seed, a multivitamin and antioxidants, but you would need your doctors approval to use it with levothyroxine and Aciclovir. We are not medical doctors and we are not qualified to suggest using herbal blends for use with your medications. Candida Detox has many herbs in it, which may or may not be safe with your medications. Please speak with your doctor about this.

      Best Wishes,

      Dalene

  19. hello,can i take folic acid with fertility cleansing.

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