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.
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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)
Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens)
*Prescription iron, estrogens
Seaweeds, especially kelp, wakame
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.
*Heart medications, erectile dysfunction medications.
*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.
- Romm, A. J. (2010). Botanical medicine for women’s health. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.
- University of Michigan Health System Drug Information Service. (n.d.). Selected Herb-Drug Interactions. Retrieved from: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mshlafer/Lectures/herbdrug.pdf