When I was researching how to induce ovulation earlier in my cycles, I kept reading about the prescribed medication called Clomid (clomiphene). This treatment acts in such a way that it stimulates our ovaries to produce more estrogen, which in turn can cause a peak in luteinizing hormone (LH) to its threshold level. This rise in LH induces the release of the egg i.e. ovulation.
How does Clomid work?
Clomid has a similar structure to the hormone estrogen and it attaches to estrogen receptor cells in the hypothalamus (in the brain). With the estrogen receptor cells blocked, your brain thinks that you have low estrogen in your body. As estrogen is usually released from the maturing follicles on your ovaries, the brain thinks the follicles are not maturing so it produces more follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). The FHS stimulates the follicles to mature and they release estrogen. Estrogen levels should become nice and high and this will then induce the all important peak in LH and the release of a mature egg.
You can only get clomid from your doctor or gynecologist on prescription.
A Natural Alternative to Clomid.
If you discovered that you are not ovulating regularly, or if your cycles are very long and you ovulate late, you can try to induce ovulation naturally with Soy isoflavones supplements. Soy Isoflavones can work as a natural alternative to Clomid. They are phytoestrogens and you can buy them here online for around £16.99 for 90 capsules. They are thought to act in a similar way to clomid by weakly attaching to estrogen receptors in the brain.
Although there is no actual scientific data on the use of soy isoflavones to induce ovulation, there are lots of woman on trying to conceive forums that have tried them and it helped them to ovulate earlier. I was really interested to see if they would induce my ovulation earlier so I gave them a go.
I am not giving medical advice here and you should do your own research. You should also consult your GP if you are on any other medication before trying them. As they are a natural supplement used during the menopause or for symptoms of PMS (Premenstrual syndrome), I thought they would probably not do me any harm.
How should soy isoflavones be taken?
All the advice I found online said the best time to take them is at the beginning of your menstrual cycle (just like Clomid) and most women were taking them on days 3 to 7 of their cycle. You can take them on cycle days 1 to 5 or on days 5 to 9, but you will then either produce lots of immature eggs or a few very mature eggs. Taking them on days 3-7 seemed like the happy medium.
Soy Isoflavones should be taken at the same time every day and with food. I suggest taking them in the morning with breakfast.
They should be taken for five days in a row only and no longer. If taken for longer than 5 days in one cycle they can have negative effects on your ovulation and your cycle will be wasted.
The recommended dose for Soy Isoflavones is around 100mg per day, but you should use the lowest dose that works for you. Try and keep the dose lower than 160mgs a day and never exceed 200mg a day.
You can buy 90 x 50mg capsules here and you can take 2 together for 5 days in a row on your chosen days i.e. cycle days 1 – 5, 3 – 7 or 5 – 9.
Warnings: There are certain medications that you should not take soy isoflavones with and antibiotics are one of these. You should also not take soy isoflavones and vitex together.
Do Soy Isoflavones work? I will share my experience with you.
After chatting to lots of women online who had tried Soy Isoflavones, I decided there were enough success stories for me to believe it could work. I decided to try them as my cycles were really long (40 days plus) and I was ovulating really late around cycle day 30. I was hoping they could shorten my cycles by helping me to ovulate earlier.
I tried them for 3 cycles and took 100mg in the morning with breakfast on cycle days 3 to 7.
Cycle 1. The first cycle taking them, I ovulated on cycle day 18 and this was a vast improvement. As I was charting my cycles, I discovered that my luteal phase was only 10 days long.
Cycle 2. The second cycle I took them I had all my fertile signs and a positive ovulation test around cycle day 16-18. I thought I was going to ovulate but I started to spot instead and I came on my period. This cycle was 22 days long and was an anovulatory cycle. I remember being particularly stressed out that cycle as I was struggling emotionally after a miscarriage I had suffered a few months earlier.
Cycle 3. The third cycle I took them, I ovulated on Cd14 and again and my luteal phase was still 10 days long.
The next few cycles I decided to stop using them to see what my body would do. I was concerned that the Soy isoflavones were giving me the short 10-day luteal phase. The next 3 cycles without using soy isoflavones I ovulated on cycle day 22, 30 and 22 and my luteal phase was still 10 days long. This confirmed that the Soy Isoflavones were not causing my short luteal phase. I had seen a gynecologist at this point and was prescribed progesterone and conceived the following cycle.
I cannot be 100% sure that it was the soy isoflavones that shortened my cycles but it was a bit of a coincidence that 2 out of the 3 cycles I took them were the cycles that I ovulated the earliest and were my shortest cycles.
Should you give them a go?
If you ovulate later in your cycle and your cycles are irregular then maybe give them a go. I didn’t have any side effects that I can recall but if you are concerned about side effects then there are lots of information online about them. Also, check out the forums on trying to conceive websites such as baby centre regarding soy isoflavones as there are lots of useful information on there too.