Thursday, 8 November 2007

Vitex (Agnus Castus) – The natural clomid?

Vitex agnus-castus, also called chaste berry, is becoming more and more popular with women trying to fall pregnant. But what does it actually do and will it really help?

The key to falling pregnant is having regular menstrual cycles and ovulation. Of course general health and well being also play a part, but for those women whose fertility is due to hormonal imbalances that cause irregular menstrual cycles or ovulation then Vitex has been used for centuries to help correct these problems.

The most common hormonal problem with women is insufficient progesterone during the luteal phase. The luteal phase is the time between ovulation and your period and should be around 14 days long. If your luteal phase is less than 10 days (called a luteal phase defect) then the egg, even if it does get fertilized, doesn’t have time to embed into the uterus and is expelled with your period.

Vitex acts by balancing the hormones thus shifting the ratio of estrogen to progesterone. It doesn’t actually produce progesterone itself, just helps your body increase its ability to produce more. It is also helpful for reducing high prolactin levels which are also commonly associated with a luteal phase defect.

It has been shown to be especially beneficial for women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) as they often have hormonal irregularities that mean that estrogen, which is dominant in the first half of a women’s cycle, continues to dominate in the second half thus not producing enough progesterone to sustain a potential pregnancy.

It is safe to take Vitex throughout your whole cycle until you fall pregnant but many women choose to take it either in the first half or second half of their cycle thinking that this will be more beneficial. However this doesn’t allow enough time for the herb to build up in your body and many women give up too soon thinking that the herb is not working for them.

It usually takes at least 3 – 6 months for Vitex or Chaste berry to begin working so if you have just started taking it, continue for at least six months to make sure you get the full benefit.

Vitex can be taken in capsule, tea or tincture form, so talk to your naturopath about which is best for you.

1 comment:

Welcome to my world - Deni said...

What if you don't have a deficient luteal phase or pcos. I have short periods and suffer from pms but my cycles are normal. Can I still take Vitex?