Vitex is a native Mediterranean herb that has been used since ancient times to treat hormonal imbalance and improve female fertility. Often referred to as ‘the women’s herb’, the scientific name for vitex is Angus-Castus, and it is also known as chasteberry.
Used across many ancient civilizations, and experiencing somewhat of a revival in European countries since the 1990s, vitex is perhaps best known for relieving symptoms associated with PMS and menopause.
But does vitex improve female fertility?
Here’s what we know from the most recent scientific research into vitex.
What Causes Female Infertility?
To understand how vitex can improve fertility, it is first important to comprehend what causes female fertility struggles.
Women’s health experts & researchers concur that the majority of female fertility struggles are caused by hormonal imbalances. In particular, a short luteal phase and low levels of progesterone (or high levels of estrogen) can prevent women from becoming pregnant.
These imbalances stem from the pituitary gland, which is responsible for communicating with the ovaries to let them know how much of each hormone to produce.
Vitex is known to regulate the pituitary gland. By stimulating the production of certain hormones and reducing the secretion of others to find the perfect balance for fertility and fetal development.
Vitex Optimizes Progesterone
Vitex can significantly help to prepare the body for pregnancy, for example, by improving progesterone levels.
This is achieved by a two-pronged effect. First, vitex helps to reduce the production of the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) while simultaneously stimulating the luteinizing hormone (LH).
These two processes help to increase progesterone levels and lengthen the luteal phase to promote ovulation.
As found in a 2015 study called Progesterone and the Luteal Phase: A Requisite to Reproduction, natural conception is not possible without the follicular (first half) and luteal (second half) phases of the menstrual cycle working in tandem.
Vitex Regulates the Production of Prolactin
Prolactin is a hormone produced in the pituitary gland and is one of the most important hormones for fertility, as well as the production of breast milk.
The normal prolactin level for women is less than 25ng/ml. Women who produce high levels of prolactin, however, can experience a shorter luteal phase during menstruation, which makes it more difficult to become pregnant.
Known to decrease the production of prolactin, vitex thereby helps to lengthen the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle and improve the chances of conceiving.
In a 1993 blind study involving 52 women, some were given a daily vitex supplement and others a placebo. After three months, researchers recorded lower prolactin levels and more regular luteal phases in the women taking the vitex supplement.
Vitex Helps Reduce Cysts & Regulate Cycles
Due to its natural ability to balance the production of estrogen, vitex is also considered helpful in healing ovarian cysts, fibroids, and endometriosis. All of which can hinder pregnancy.
In addition, vitex is known to aid in re-establishing regular menstrual cycles while transitioning off hormonal birth control. It is important to note, however, that vitex can react with birth control pills, so it is recommended to consult with your medical practitioner before use.
Bottom Line: Does Vitex Improve Fertility?
While studies have shown that it can certainly improve hormonal balance, does vitex really improve fertility?
A 2006 placebo-controlled study would suggest that it does.
Over the course of three months, 93 women experiencing fertility struggles were given either a vitex supplement or a placebo, along with a mixture of nutritional vitamins and minerals.
The results of the group taking vitex showed significant improvement in hormonal balance compared to the placebo group. And most interestingly, 26% of them became pregnant compared to only 10% of the placebo group.
How to Use Vitex for Fertility
It is widely recommended that a vitex supplement, such as the Vitex Chasteberry Supplement from Intimate Rose, should be taken for at least three to six months to improve fertility.
Additionally, a healthy and nutritious diet, as well as regular exercise, will greatly improve the effectiveness of vitex.
Is it Safe to Take Vitex While Pregnant?
Although vitex is a natural herb that is considered safe with very mild to zero side effects, it is not currently recommended for use during pregnancy.
Because vitex can alter hormones, especially those that are important during pregnancy and breastfeeding, it is recommended that expectant mothers and breastfeeding mothers avoid using it.
While it is difficult to say with absolute certainty, several studies have shown positive results that vitex supplements greatly improve the female hormonal balance. Which, in turn, significantly boosts the chances of a healthy pregnancy.
For anyone struggling with fertility issues, it is certainly worth speaking with a health practitioner about the possibility of vitex supplements to help with conceiving.
Mayo Clinic – Female Infertility - https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/female-infertility/symptoms-causes/syc-20354308
Pituitary Society – What is Prolactinoma –https://www.pituitarysociety.org/polactinoma
National Center For Biotechnology Information - Progesterone and the Luteal Phase,
A Requisite to Reproduction - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4436586/
National Center For Biotechnology Information - Double-blind, placebo-controlled study of Fertilityblend: a nutritional supplement for improving fertility in women - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17211965/