Vitex and Fertility.
When I first came off the pill and wanted to start trying to conceive I met my first hurdle…….no period. After 3 months I went to see my GP and we did blood tests. My prolactin levels were slightly high so this could have been the reason and all my other reproductive hormones were the low end of normal. I felt like I wanted to do something pro-active to try to balance out my hormone levels and so I started to look into the use of fertility herbs. I kept seeing the fertility herb Angus castus AKA Chasteberry or Vitex so started to do some research.
What is Vitex?
I have mentioned Vitex in the section on ‘fertility herbs and fertility vitamins’ but I felt I needed to give it its only post as I am sure this herb in particular has helped me to ovulate more regularly and Vitex has helped me to conceive 4 times.
Vitex is a very popular fertility herb which has been used for 100’s of years to improve fertility as it helps to balance out a women’s fertility hormones. It helps to support the pituitary gland which regulates the sex hormones released by the ovaries which results in a more regular period and therefore more regular ovulation. This in turn brings about a more predictable fertile window to try to conceive. Vitex can increase the amounts of luteinizing hormone (LH) produced before ovulation which may also boost our progesterone levels after ovulation. As progesterone helps us to maintain a healthy uterine lining for longer this is very important for implantation.
Does Vitex help fertility? Here is my experience.
I read lots of positive feedback and reviews from women who had tried Vitex so I decided to give it a go. I didn’t ovulate for quite a while after starting it (2-3 months) but as fertility herbs can take a while to work, I was quite sure that the Vitex was having a positive effect. My cervical mucus would start to intermittently resemble the fertile egg white cervical mucus (which was an indication I was maybe fertile) and I would get positive ovulation tests here and there. Before taking Vitex my cervical mucus was always scant and sticky and my ovulation tests were always negative. I was charting my cycles at the time using my basal body temperature so I knew when I finally ovulated and I managed to conceive.
I had a chemical pregnancy but with the help of Vitex I ovulated again 2 months later and conceived again. This also ended in a miscarriage at 12 weeks but I felt that at least I was getting somewhere. I carried on taking Vitex and over the coming months my cycles got shorter and more regular which gave me more chances to try for a baby which was great. I finally conceived again after 6 months and now I have a lovely little boy.
Was it all just a coincidence?
When my son was 6 months old my cycles returned and as I knew I wanted to try for another baby quite soon I started to take Vitex again straight away. I was ovulating irregularly (between day 15 and 30) but my cycles were shorter and I managed to conceive my daughter the first month of trying.
When my daughter was 6 months old my cycles returned again but this time I had no plans to try for another baby. I therefore didn’t start taking Vitex again or any other fertility herbs/vitamins. My first 3 cycles were really long again (35 plus days). I was not ovulating until around cycle day 32-38 and my luteal phase was very short at just 7 days.
The above chart shows I ovulated on cycle day 38 and my luteal phase was only 7 days long. I decided to start taking Vitex again, along with Vitamin B6 100mg (as part of a vitamin B complex) to see if it could help.
Above is my March – April 2018 chart after I had been taking Vitex for 2 months. I ovulated on cycle day 33 and my period arrived 10 days later giving me a 9 day luteal phase. I spotted for 3 days before it arrived.
I was doubtful that my luteal phase would lengthen much more than 9 days however this cycle I got a pleasant surprise. Not only did I ovulate on cycle day 19 but my luteal phase has astonishing lengthened to 14 days with no spotting. This is the first time this has happened while I have been charting my ovulation (in 4 years). As I have always suffered from a luteal phase defect i.e. a luteal phase of 7-10 days, and usually spot for 2 days before my period arrives, this difference is unbelievable.
So not only has the Vitex and Vitamin B6 helped me ovulate around 2 weeks earlier than in my previous 5 cycles, they have helped my body establish a completely normal luteal phase in my last cycle. When I conceived my two children I had to use progesterone to increase my luteal phase as it was too short. If this is the new ‘normal’ for me, then I would not need progesterone treatment to conceive again. I am looking forward to seeing if I will ovulate earlier again this cycle and if my luteal phase is still in the normal range.
Can you take Vitex during pregnancy?
Research suggests that Vitex is safe in early pregnancy and may actually can help to prevent early miscarriage through its positive effects on our progesterone levels. It should be stopped after 12 weeks however to prevent early milk production. From 12 -14 weeks the placenta takes over the production of progesterone so it is no longer needed anyway. If you fall pregnant and are concerned then it is best to speak to your GP to be safe.
Vitex works best when taken over a long period of time and depending on the individual but can take a while to take effect (up to 6 months). It helps to give long term balance to a women’s hormone levels so patience is needed. It should be taken once daily in the morning on an empty stomach (half an hour before breakfast). The suggested dose is 1000mg day but you will struggle to buy this dose in any health food shops in the UK. You can only buy them at 1000mg online.
Vitex should not be used alongside prescription fertility drugs such as chlomid or that contain hormones e.g.progesterone.
For more information on the benefits of Vitamin B6 and other Fertility herbs and Vitamins check out this section.
If you have tried Vitex or Vitamin B6 yourself then please comment below to share your experiences or if you have any questions then feel free to ask.