Saw Palmetto for Improved Male & Female Fertility

Saw Palmetto for Improved Male & Female Fertility

Saw Palmetto has a rich history of use for aiding fertility challenges in both men and women. Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) is a type of creeping shrubby palm tree. It is native to the coastal regions of the southern United States. Many Native American tribes were the first to use this plant as medicine. Traditional use by herbalists across the United States has shown that when it comes to infertility, this herb works best in people with depleted vitality and weakened reproductive function. Many clinical herbalists note that this herb is not helpful for people who already have healthy reproductive function and overall vitality.

The berry of this plant looks much like an olive and is considered a “food” herb. Food herbs are nutritive, nontoxic that can be taken long-term in substantial quantities. Other food herbs are Dandelion, Red Clover, Ginger, and Nettles. This gives you an idea of the safety of Saw Palmetto. It is also important to note that food herbs take time, usually many months, to be effective. These are plants that are deeply nourishing and bring about the greatest long-term health benefits.

Saw Palmetto Benefits Fertility in a Variety of Ways

Saw palmetto has a variety of actions. Many of these actions may directly or indirectly support proper function of the reproductive system and overall health of the body. People with high stress, poor immune function, poor lifestyle, and unhealthy dietary habits, have shown to respond well to this herb.

This plant is classified as an adaptogen, antiandrogenic, anti-inflammatory, demulcent, urinary antiseptic, immune amphoteric. Saw Palmetto is also a reproductive amphoteric. What does that mean though? It simply means it normalizes reproductive function. Remember, this is only for those whose reproductive function is impaired.

Fertility issues Saw Palmetto is commonly use for:

  • Ovarian and uterine pain
  • Cystic acne
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Pelvic congestion
  • Hirsutism due to PCOS
  • Low Sperm Count
  • Low libido
  • Elevated levels of androgens
  • Irritation and anxiety
  • Stress
  • Low cervical mucous
  • Endometrial hyperplasia
  • Delayed puberty
  • Poorly developed secondary sexual characteristics
  • Prostate problems

Low Sperm Count

Studies have shown that diet and lifestyle directly impact sperm health. Poor nutritional and lifestyle habits, combined with high levels of stress, may cause lower sperm counts. Saw Palmetto is nourishing to the entire endocrine system, which may help improve overall reproductive function in men.

Improved Immune System Function

The adaptogenic and immune-supportive actions of Saw Palmetto may help support the male and female body through times of high stress: adrenal fatigue, IVF preparation, fatigue, weakness, fatigue, and weakened reproductive system function. Signs of this in men may be impotence, low sperm count, and hormonal imbalance. In women this may present as irregular cycles, hormonal imbalance, ovarian cysts, PCOS, or any situation where uterine stagnation is present. Many people who have taken Saw Palmetto long-term have reported improvement in energy and sense of wellbeing. Many case studies, no matter what the problem was, when Saw Palmetto was used, the men had all reported being in a “better mood.” Saw Palmetto alone cannot solve stress problems; other stress reduction techniques should be implemented as well.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

    Some women experience hair thinning and/or excess facial and body hair growth known as hirsutism. Women with PCOS tend to have higher levels of the androgen testosterone. Testosterone present in excessive levels, as found in some women with PCOS, is converted to much stronger dihydrotestosterone (DHT) by the enzyme 5 alpha-reductase. DHT is thought to be responsible for male pattern baldness in men, but also thinning hair in women. This may also cause excessive hair growth in unwanted areas in women, especially on the face.

    Endometrial Hyperplasia
    Women with PCOS usually have high levels of estrogen and low levels of progesterone; known as estrogen dominance. This may cause uterine hypertrophy, also known as endometrial hyperplasia. Excessive levels of estrogen may cause excessive cell proliferation of the endometrium. The endometrium is the innermost layer of the uterus. Saw Palmetto is strengthening for the body tissues, aiding in proper formation and function of the uterine cells.

    Deep Cystic Acne
    A chief complaint by women with PCOS is cystic acne. Saw Palmetto has been shown to help reduce cystic acne by binding to androgens. Elevated levels of androgens in women with PCOS has been shown to increase activity of the sebaceous glands, which increases growth of epidermal tissue. This then blocks the follicle and creates a cyst of sebum, keratin, and bacteria. Irritation causes the rupture of the cyst, then acute inflammatory response, then abscess, and then a longer healing process, which causes scarring.

Saw Palmetto Combines Well With Other Herbs

  • Saw Palmetto combines well with Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus), Licorice Rt. (Glycyrrhiza glabra) and Nettles Root (Urtica dioica) for reduction of PCOS and all related symptoms of associated with this disorder. Licorice has also been found to reduce serum testosterone levels in women with PCOS.
  • Saw Palmetto also combines well with Damiana (Turnera diffusa) to support healthy libido. Equal ratio of 1:1 is used for increasing libido.
  • For male factor infertility, low sperm count and reduced male reproductive function, Saw Palmetto combines well with Chinese ginseng (Panax ginseng), Fo-ti (Polygonum multiflorum), and Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera).
  • Combines well with Partridge berry (Mitchella repens) for uterine prolapse and to aid in vaginal tone after multiple childbirths.
  • For cystic acne, Saw Palmetto combines well with Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus) and Oregon Grape root (Mahonia aquifolium).

Suggested Dosage for Saw Palmetto
Saw Palmetto takes time to be effective. It is suggested for use over a 6-week period, taking note of any improvements over that time. If improvements are noted, it may be continued on for many months for best results. At about 6 months, discontinuing use of this herb will help to see how the body is functioning on its own.

Capsule: 400mg capsule a day

Liquid Extract: 1 tsp. liquid extract a day

The plant part used is the berry. These berries contain a variety of chemical compounds that have important balancing actions on the body. The berry has been said to taste like an intensely sweet, slightly vanilla flavor at first, then like a very strong blue cheese, ending in tobacco or pepper juice flavor. The ripe, but not old berry, should be dark purplish black and is considered the most effective. Because of its pungency, this plant is most commonly taken in either hydroalcoholic (water and alcohol mixture) extract or by capsule. The state of Florida pulls in an estimated 70 million dollars a year for sales of Saw Palmetto supplements. It is a relatively easily harvested plant, making it a sustainable choice as a nutritional supplement.

Important note about quality: The powdered berry in capsules should have a strong odor and pungent aromatic taste. The liquid extract should have a strong aromatic flavor as well. If the product you purchased does not have these qualities, it may not be as effective. Older berries lose their effectiveness. Powdered Saw Palmetto has a shelf life of 1 year.

Because this plant has antiandrogenic effects, manipulating some hormone levels in the body, it is not suggested for combination with any type of medications for fertility that also affect hormone levels. Speak with your doctor prior to using Saw Palmetto if you plan on taking medications for PCOS. Do not use Saw Palmetto prior to getting hormone testing for any fertility issue. Saw Palmetto may affect the test results. Do not use Saw Palmetto during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Saw Palmetto has been found safe for long-term use in most cases. Talk to your doctor or natural healthcare practitioner to see if Saw Palmetto is right for you.


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

    Tank you for your answer,I have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism,autoimmune thyroiditis and hyperprolactinemia, but doctors prescribe hormonal therapy, so I am looking for natural treatment.

  2. Avatar

    Hi ! Can Saw Palmetto help me with slightly elevated DHEA and prolactin? And should I take it only during the second phase?

    • Dear Maryana,

      I might suggest learning more about Chastetree berry or Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus). Elevated levels of DHEA can be signs of PCOS, adrenal imbalance and possible hypoandrogenism. Elevated prolactin could signal thyroid imbalance. Your doctor is best equipped to help you know if these should be concerns. Have you been evaluated for any of these fertility health issues?

  3. Avatar

    What if I’m 50 & am possibly 3 mos pregnant and have took saw Palmetto for several years & also during this 3 mos..

    • Hello Donna!

      Saw Palmetto is not suggested for use during pregnancy. It will be best to reach out to an herbalist, midwife near you, or your doctor for support moving forward. Herbs are suggested to be weaned off of by taking less and less every couple of days over a week’s time in early pregnancy with guidance from your healthcare provider.

  4. Avatar

    I think saw palmetto is an excellent herbal remedy. I write about natural remedies supported by science. I encourage people to learn more about the amazing herbs that are out there.

  5. Avatar

    Hi, I bought this herb due to these wonderful benefits mentioned above as I have pcos, high testosterone levels, missed/irregular periods and hirsutism. My question: Is there a certain day of the cycle I should start the pills? I’m currently 14days since last pill of provera, waiting on aunt flow but no sign or symptoms yet. Thanks for reading!

    • Dear Maggie,

      Saw Palmetto can be started at any time and taken all cycle long. Suggested use of Saw Palmetto is 400mg per day, or 1 tsp. of liquid extract daily, for 6 weeks (if improvements are noted, it can be continued for 6 months before taking a break and in the absence of pregnancy). If actively trying to conceive, it may be best to test for pregnancy given menstruation has not yet begun if it is late.

      Consider also learning more about supporting the 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 through the following article How to Reduce the Damaging Effects of PCOS on Fertility Through Diet and Herbs.

      All my best!

  6. Avatar

    Thanks so much for this beautiful piece on saw palmetto berries. For hyperprolactinemia and PCOS caused by insulin resistance and hypothyroidism, my daughter is on Vitex for hormonal balance, Stinging Nettle for insulin resistance and Saw Palmetto for acne and hirsutism. She also takes spearmint tea twice daily. Recently a friend of hers got her high level of prolactin resolved by taking rhodiola rosea. Can she add it to her protocol?

    • Dear Modupe,

      How wonderful that these gals have seen results. While Rhodiola is known to have a balancing effect on the endocrine system supporting overall hormonal balance, and the body’s stress and immune response, as well as help to balance blood sugar levels, it is going to be best to consult the healthcare provider who suggested the herbs she is already taking about adding Rhodiola to her program.

  7. Avatar

    Hi! I have been taking Saw Palmetto for PCOS and have had amazing results. My cycle is now regular (28 days on the dot), no acne and hair loss has subsided. However, I plan on falling pregnant in the next 6 months. Is it ok to stay on the herb to improve my chances of falling pregnant? How does Saw Palmetto affect pregnancy? Would it be safe to take in the first trimester until the placenta takes over?
    Many thanks

    • Dear Alex,

      Hi! How wonderful that you have seen such results!

      Saw Palmetto can be taken while trying to conceive, but is not intended for use in pregnancy because it has anti-androgenic effects meaning is can manipulate some hormone levels in the body (an action not desired or necessary in pregnancy). Saw palmetto should be discontinued upon first determination of pregnancy.

    • Avatar


      which kind of saw palmetto are you taking.. can you give me the name of the brand which you are taking for PCOS..
      I also have PCOS..

  8. Avatar

    Hi! I have PCOS (thin). I am currently taking Vitex, Maca, Royal jelly and the Harmonize 1 & 2 monthly program for begging and end of cycles respectively (with amazing results as i am finally menstruating on my own! – cycles still a bit long, but getting there).
    I would just like to know when during the cycle to take saw palmetto?
    Thank You!

    • Dear Julie,

      I am so thankful to hear of your success. How great! Harmonize Phase 1 & 2 both already contain Saw Palmetto. There may not be a need to add additional Saw Palmetto. It would be best to talk to your doctor or natural healthcare practitioner to see if additional Saw Palmetto is right for you.

  9. Avatar

    Hi Dalene!

    Ok, thank you! Take your time 🙂

    • Hi Susan,

      We removed your other comment, as we do not allow links to other websites. I have sent you a personal email from my work inbox, please check your spam filter if you don’t see it in your inbox. I will be back to you soon! Thanks again for contacting us.

  10. Avatar

    I would like to ask if Saw Palmetto estrogenic or it is anti-estrogenic? I would like to take it for thinning hair because of PCOS, but I found two different statements about Saw Palmetto, somewhere they say it makes your estrogen level low, lower, and on other places you can read it makes your estorgen level higher. What is the truth about this? Why they say opposing things about the same herb? I have lower estrogen level (but it is still in the normal range) and a normal level of testosterone, but yet I have thinning hair and hair loss.

    Thank you!

    • Hi Susan,

      It is neither estrogenic nor anti-estrogenic. If you would please share a link to the statement that says Saw Palmetto is estrogenic, that would be helpful for me to respond. I look forward to hearing back from you!