Questions? Call us: 1 (800) 851-7957   |   Shop Products   

Call us: 1 (800) 851-7957

Wild Yam: Herb for Reproductive System Support in Women

Wild Yam: Herb for Reproductive System Support in Women

wild yam rootWild Yam root (Dioscorea villosa) has been used for many years to support women with their reproductive system health. Wild Yam aids a variety of women’s fertility issues. Most people think that Wild Yam is for menopausal women only, but it has many beneficial actions for women in their childbearing years.

There is some misleading information out there about this herb. It is a common belief that Wild Yam acts as precursor to human sex hormones. Wild Yam root used in its natural state as a whole herb, which can be used in a variety of forms… capsule, tincture, cream and tea, cannot be biologically converted to hormones in the body. Wild Yam does not contain estrogen or progesterone.

Wild Yam does contain the steroidal saponin aglycone diosin which may be converted to diosgenin in the body by adequate healthy gut flora. It is currently speculated that the flora within our bowels consumes a glycoside molecule from diosin. This releases diosgenin, which is absorbed through the mucous membranes of the intestines into the bloodstream. This may enable diosgenin to act on estrogen receptor sites in the hypothalamus, which in turn may help to regulate production of estrogen, aiding in estrogen balance. Wild Yam requires healthy gut flora to do this though. Consider what your intestinal health is like before relying on Wild Yam for this action. It is also important to note that if you are using Wild Yam cream to balance hormones, this conversion cannot take place absorbed through the skin, it must be taken orally.

This may be confusing because Wild Yam root is used to make Natural Progesterone Cream. So how does that work? Well, Natural Progesterone Cream comes from plant fats and oils called diosgenin which is extracted from either from Mexican Wild Yams or soybeans. In the laboratory diosgenin is chemically synthesized into a molecular structure that is identical to real human progesterone. This is why Wild Yam taken internally or used as a cream will not increase progesterone levels in the body.

The whole herb form of Wild Yam root, which contains diosgenin, cannot be biologically converted to hormones by our bodies. This can only be done in a lab. So don’t be fooled by anyone telling you that you will increase progesterone levels by using pure Wild Yam cream. It has to say USP bio-identical Natural Progesterone Cream to actually increase progesterone levels in the body.

A clinical summary for healthcare professionals at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center shares, “Derived from the root of a twining vine, wild yam was traditionally used for its antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties to treat menopausal symptoms, gastrointestinal ailments, muscle spasm, asthma, joint pain, and rheumatoid arthritis (1) (2).”

The clinical summary also shares that animal models suggest Wild Yam may:

  • block cell growth by stopping cell division thereby inhibiting tumor cell growth
  • have anti-inflammatory affects
  • block or inhibit the sensation of pain
  • help restore sperm motility that is moderately decreased
  • lower weight gain and body fat
  • support a healthy body response to glucose

Wild Yam Reduces Reproductive Muscle Cramping and Pain

Wild Yam Soothes Painful Cramping/Spasm: Wild Yam has a wonderful action on smooth muscle tissue, reducing muscle spasm of the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries, aiding in painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea) and chronic pelvic pain. Wild Yam helps the uterus to work more efficiently during menses. This uterine support allows for proper function of the uterus while working to prevent uterine cramping or spasm. This herb has a wonderful action on the ovaries, toning them and aiding in ovarian cyst pain. Wild Yam is often used to treat urinary tract infection pain as well.

Pain Reduction from Pelvic Surgery: Wild Yam has been found to be effective at reducing pain, especially nerve pain from any kind of pelvic surgery. This includes surgery for endometriosis, ovarian cysts, uterine fibroid removal, and cesarean section.

Threatened Miscarriage: Traditionally used to treat irritable uterus and threatened miscarriage with uterine contractions present. Often combined with Cramp bark or Black Haw.

Dysfunctional and Painful Labor: Skilled midwives use this herb to regulate uterine contractions, or to aid women with pain reduction in labor. Pain is reduced by promoting proper function of the uterine muscles, soothing smooth muscles, reducing incidence of cramping up.

Afterbirth Pain: This antispasmodic action also reduces afterbirth pains postnatally, relaxing and reducing uterine cramping. Wild Yam is often combined with Motherwort for this type of pain.

Wild Yam Brings Relief for Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy
Wild Yam has also been used traditionally for hundreds of years, even by Native Americans, for nausea and vomiting in pregnancy (NVP) and hyperemesis gravidarum. Hyperemesis gravidarum is extreme nausea and vomiting in pregnancy.

Note: Do not use Wild Yam in pregnancy unless guided by a skilled herbalist or midwife. There are no established guidelines for using Wild Yam while breastfeeding.

Traditional Chinese herbalists use Wild Yam to bring heat to a cold, stagnant uterus. They also use it to bring in more Chi (life force) to the body and entire female reproductive system.

Traditional Suggested Usage
Wild Yam works best taken over time. Because of theoretical risk of estrogen modulation, this herb is not advised if you have a history of estrogen responsive cancers.

Dried Herb: 2-4 grams daily in capsules, or divided into 1 cup infusion daily.
Tincture: 2-4 dropperfuls fresh root tincture, divided in 3 doses a day.

Wild Yam is rarely used alone, it is best combined with other supportive herbs, depending on the fertility issue being treated. Wild Yam is part of Conceptions Tea blend sold in our Natural Fertility Shop.

Too learn more about related subjects covered in this article, please visit the following links:

Fertility Health Tip: Probiotics and Prebiotics

Fertility Herb: Motherwort


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.

Related Articles


Let your voice be heard... Leave a brief comment or question related to this article.

 characters available
  1. Avatar

    I have PCOS and have Amenorrhea as a result. Can I use Wild Yam to help me conceive?

  2. Avatar

    I need to clarify whether Wild Yam can be used to decrease the likelihood of conceiving? I am healthy, married, 20 years old and learning Fertility Awareness/charting as a form of contraceptive. I have heard that regular (daily) use of Wild Yam can help with prevention? Coming from a very fertile female blood line.. haha. Thank you in advance!

    • Dear Karen,

      I have not ever seen sound evidence that Wild Yam can prevent pregnancy and many herbalists and natural healthcare providers caution it’s use for this purpose. The very best way to prevent pregnancy is for a woman to avoid unprotected intercourse during her fertile window. This short time frame (the only time of a cycle a woman can conceive naturally) is best learned via charting BBT and cervical mucus to learn exactly when you ovulate. One can have sex during a fertile window, but use a non-pharmacological, “barrier” method like a diaphragm with a spermicidal cream, or condoms (the “pull-out” method isn’t as reliable as using a barrier).

      My best!

  3. Avatar

    Is wild yam safe to take to help with hormonal balance for those with Fibroids? I have tried chasteberry, but I have horrendous side effects every time I try using it. It gives me severe depression. Everything returns back to normal once I stop using it. Anyways, I am doing everything that needs to be done, including a diet of no dairy, soy, sugar, processed foods, alcohol etc…eating meat occasionally (organic,antibiotic and hormone free) Taking burdock root and dandelion root tea 2-3 x a day to cleanse liver and blood, now I just need a herb or herbal combination that will help re-balance my hormones to help the fibroids shrink. I am 47 with no fertility issues. Is wild yam safe for me?

  4. Avatar

    So, does Wild Yam topically/cream do anything then? I just got some from a herbalist to help with sleep. I am also taking Yin supporting herbs orally.

  5. Avatar

    Please can you advise? How do I know where to get Wild Yam Cream from which says USP on the product? It is really confusing. I am looking into what types of wild yam will help with Perimenopausal symptoms as a more natural form of oestrogen replacement.
    Thank You.

    • Dear V Scola,

      I am not aware of where you might find pure wild yam cream. Consider speaking to your local pharmacist. He may know. Wild yam cream is not the same as Natural Progesterone Cream, if this is what you are interested in. Wild yam creams do not contain any progesterone. They may aid normal hormone balance and perimenopausal problems like hot flashes or even PMS.

  6. Avatar

    HI! I received a Progesterone cream from my acupuncturist and I am wondering if it is a good quality/safe to use/effective cream (in your opinion).
    It is “Karuna Responsible Nutrition Pure Progesterone”.
    It says that it is made “with Micronized USP Progesterone in the amounts recommended by leading authorities.” 25mg per serving.
    On the ingredient list, the Wild Yam is listed as “USP Progesterone derived from Wild Yam (Discorea Villosa) Root extract.”


  7. Avatar

    Hi! I was prescribed by my doctor wild yams as natural DHEA to increase my AMH level. At the same time, I do have endometriosis. I have conflicting thought whether this can actually improve or worsen my cramps. If it is beneficial enough, any particular time of women’s cycle should I consume this? The dose given is 3 x 25 mg for a day. Let me know what you think, much appreciate it.