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Herbs to Avoid While Trying to Conceive Blog Feature
Dr. Shaun Williams

By: Dr. Shaun Williams on February 17th, 2020

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Herbs to Avoid While Trying to Conceive

pregnancy | Conception

There are many, many things on the market that you can take to boost preconception health and help you become pregnant. You can buy them in the health food store, in the drug stores, in the supermarkets, online, and more.

BUT HEADS UP: If they are a supplement or an herb, there is no FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approval needed. They are not tested for efficacy or for genuineness, or even for possible deleterious effects.  A company marketing these supplements can “claim” that it can do anything without any true evidence that is helpful or harmful, as long as they include the disclaimer “This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”

Here is a really good Rule of Thumb: If a product has the above disclaimer associated with it, DO NOT USE THAT PRODUCT!

[The FDA is working on this, but at this time, there are still no real regulations on these products.]

In other words, you won't know whether these herbs/supplements are good for you or not. Since they are unregulated and untested, some supplements may have harmful effects on fertility, and some individuals may respond differently than others.

Without good evidence, physicians can’t really answer the concerning questions about herbs or supplements, like:

  • If you're trying to conceive naturally, are they helpful to your fertility?
  • If you're going through fertility treatment, are they counteractive to your treatment medication?

The takeaway? Herbs/supplements could be waste of money at best and harmful at worst. Due to the fact of deregulation and lack of research, we don't know.

The Herb Effect on Your Fertility: Before and During Pregnancy 

Advice for Males and Females: Beware – Not All Are Safe for Fertility

Many herbs can negatively affect male and female fertility as well as overall health during pregnancy.

Please notify your physician of all herbs and supplements you are currently taking or are considering taking.

Many vitamin combinations have been found to be useful for men, such as L-carnitine, vitamin E, vitamin C, CoEnzyme Q10, and zinc, but herbal products should be avoided.

As mentioned above, because product purity and dosage cannot be guaranteed in the United States for herbs, vitamins, minerals, and other supplements, they are not completely without risk.

Need help picking out your prenatal vitamin?

Read Our Guide Now

What About Herbal Teas Labeled as "Safe During Pregnancy?"

The guidelines that apply to "safe herbal teas" during pregnancy only hold true when intake remains low - no more than 16 oz per day for each of the safe teas and according to manufacturer’s labels on others. Just remember to use moderation.

Why? Many teas have tannins which bind to iron and folate and will reduce your iron and folate storage. 

Reducing your iron and folate intake can be a big deal when #TTC. Check out this blog all about how important folic acid is for a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby. Long story short: It's VERY important.

What Herbs /Supplements Are Safe for Preconception & Pregnancy?

The jury is still out on this one, unfortunately.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • As previously mentioned, there's no regulation on herbs/supplements. How do you know what you're buying is legit?
  • What if you already have hormonal issues like PCOS, do you know how a particular herb with react with your specific case?
  • What if you're taking multiple supplements or other medication? How will one herb/supplement react with the rest?
  • Finally, will this interfere with your fertility cycle? Will it be counterproductive or counteractive to the medications your fertility specialist has prescribed you?

Physicians DON’T have the answers to these questions; that's why it is always best to avoid the unknown when a healthy pregnancy is the goal!

Can Herbs or Supplements Affect My Fertility Journey?

We sure hope not... but again, the lack of research and regulation make "knowing" difficult.

As a fertility clinic, we are here to help you with your family building dreams. After all, it's our dream for you, too! That's why we strongly urge you to steer clear of herbs while you're cycling with us. We would never want you to hurt your chances at conceiving because of a false promise on a label or an understudied claim.

There is a great deal of science behind our treatment plans using regulated medications, and many of the vitamins we recommend can only be helpful, even though they don’t “cure” infertility.

The effects of herbs on our treatment plans, even if prescribed by a naturopathic physician, may be counterproductive.

A Fertility Clinic's Herb and Supplement Recommendation

At RMA of Connecticut, our number one recommendation for those trying to conceive, whether naturally or with a fertility clinic, is to take a prenatal vitamin for at least three months before trying to conceive (all part of our pre-conception wellness checklist).

Bottom line: this is something you'll want to discuss in consult with your physician. Remember that if there were a medicine out there that worked wonders, we would know about it. The idea that a simple, natural herb can cure problems is so enticing that companies make loads of money on unproven claims. Facts do matter, so it is always best to stick with what we know is helpful.

Need help finding a doctor that will help you in your family building journey? We've created a step-by-step guide in finding the right fertility specialist for you. Check it out here!

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About Dr. Shaun Williams

Dr. Shaun C. Williams, who is board certified in both Reproductive Endocrinology and Obstetrics and Gynecology, is a staff physician and fertility specialist at Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut. Dr. Williams, who has been named a “Best Doctor in America” and Fairfield County “Top Doc,” has been treating Connecticut infertility patients since 2005. His medical areas of interest include fertility preservation and reproductive surgeries, especially robotic surgery to treat conditions affecting a woman’s reproductive health. However, his true passion is caring for patients, which is why he makes himself available through email, phone and appointments. Because of his bedside manner, his patients have also named him “Most Compassionate Doctor” for the past four years.