Does Vitex Help Fertility?
Ah, dear old Vitex. The praises of this herb is sung on the internet when it comes to fertility and it is often suggested as a the magic solution to boost your fertility naturally. Is it really always right to take and is it safe?
To start with, Vitex is also referred as agnus-castus, or chasteberry.
To answer you frankly, most of the women I speak to, I either recommend to stop taking Vitex or not to even try it in the first place. In this article, I will share why so that you can make up your mind on whether you should be trying Vitex or not.
There is a lot of misinformation on the internet when it comes to this herb. Yes, I do acknowledge that it is a great herb, but it needs to be for the right people.
Vitex can mess with your hormone balance and cycles
If you have an issue with a hormone imbalance, but this herb is not right for you, it can disrupt your already fragile hormone balance even further. So you need to understand what Vitex is, how it works, and what part of your hormonal system it works on so that you can decide if it's worth a try or if you should stay away from it.
How Vitex works
It works on several parts of your hormonal system and that is directly on your hypothalamus and indirectly on your ovaries and anterior pituitary gland. So these are all hormonal glands.
The hypothalamus, is kind of the boss of the hormonal system. It tells all the other glands what they should be doing.
The anterior pituitary gland is the gland that produces hormones to stimulate the ovaries to mature and release eggs. Then, the ovaries are the ones maturing and releasing the eggs, as well as producing progesterone.
So as you can see, contrary to popular belief, Vitex does not just increase progesterone or just lengthen your luteal phase, if you have a luteal phase defect. It works on the hypothalamus and through the hypothalamus, it has a knock-on effect on the rest of your hormonal system when it comes to maturing and releasing eggs.
Vitex and dopamine
This is how Vitex does that: It stimulates the dopamine receptors in your brain. Dopamine, you may known as the happy hormone, but dopamine does so much more. It communicates with your body to produce more or less of other hormones, and one of those hormones is prolactin. If dopamine is high, it will tell the anterior pituitary gland to kind of slow down on prolactin, but if dopamine is low, then anterior pituitary gland will just keep on going, and produce prolactin until it is told to do otherwise.
Vitex and prolactin
So this is where it becomes interesting fertility-wise. Because if your dopamine is low, and your anterior pituitary gland just keeps on producing the prolactin, and prolactin is high, then that is a problem.
Although we love prolactin because it is the hormone that helps us produce milk, it also inhibits the production of FSH and LH. FSH is what matures the eggs in your ovaries, and LH is what releases it. When you're trying to fall pregnant, you need a mature egg that is released, right?
Now this is not to say that you don't want any prolactin in your system unless you're pregnant or nursing. Because prolactin actually has over 300 functions in our hormonal system. So don't just disregard prolactin and hate it. Know that there's so much more that prolactin does.
But when it comes to the FSH and the LH, if it's too high, we don't like that for our fertility when we want that baby.
So now you might be wondering about the luteal phase defects story and Vitex as that is what you may have found a lot on the internet that Vitex brings up progesterone and solves the luteal phase defect.
Well, now you understand how Vitex works.
Vitex is not just a quick fix for low progesterone
Yes, Vitex can bring up progesterone and can lengthen your luteal phase. However, it is indirectly. It's not that if you have a progesterone issue, that Vitex will automatically work. It will only work if you have that dopamine issue and that that is the reason that you are not producing enough FSH, not producing enough LH, maybe not ovulating at all, or ovulating and as a result, not producing enough progesterone.
There are so many other reasons for you to have low progesterone.
The first and foremost one being: stress. Because if you're stressed out and you're tired, then your adrenals are stealing hormones, and your ovaries won't be able to produce enough progesterone.
Another reason that you might not be producing enough progesterone is because you might not be ovulating at all. That could be due to PCOS, for example. Or it could be because you've been taking the contraceptive pill for a long time and your body has not even picked it back up again after stopping the birth control.
Another reason could be is that you're struggling with estrogen dominance and that there is progesterone in your system. There's just not enough relatively to compensate the high amounts of estrogen in your body.
So you see, Vitex is not just a quick fix for low progesterone. You need to understand what the reason is for your low progesterone.
So is it safe to take Vitex?
To answer your question whether it is just safe to try Vitex even if you don't understand what the problem is. Well, safe it might be if it's something you want.
I doubt it because if FSH and LH are normal for you, but then through the Vitex, you bring up the dopamine and that lowers your prolactin, and that brings up FSH and LH even more, then that it is going to disrupt your cycle completely.
Because if FSH is too high early in your cycle, that means that estrogen will go up too quickly, and that means LH will go up too quickly, and as a result, your eggs are released too early, and they might not actually be mature enough to be fertilized or to develop into a healthy baby. This is called hyper-stimulation of your ovaries.
High FSH also brings up temperatures in the first half of your cycle, so in the follicular phase, and is often associated with early menopause. So if you've been taking Vitex and you have seen this effect on your cycle, you may wanna quit.
When to definitely not take Vitex at all.
First of all, if you have PCOS because your ovaries are already being hyper-stimulated, that's why you're producing cysts.
Secondly, if you are on any type of synthetic hormones. Whether that's fertility drugs, or you're on birth control.
If you already know that you have a tumor pressing on your anterior pituitary gland, and that's the reason for your high prolactin. A tumor on your anterior pituitary gland does not necessarily need to be bad. It can be a benign one. But if it's pressing there, then it is possible that that brings up your prolactin as well.
Homeopathic fertility treatment
Now regardless of your situation, now whether you wanna try, and have tried it, should not try it at all, I would always recommend to seek out homeopathic treatment. Because, Vitex if you try it, it can kind of reset your cycle if it's the right thing for you, and that will have a knock-on effect, and your cycles will be put into place.
But mostly, it will not solve the underlying cause of your fertility issues or your hormone imbalance. So in that case, Vitex may only work while you're taking it. So always look for a practitioner that has trained, that can help you to solve your issues on a homeopathic level so that you address the root cause.