Nature’s remedies could be harmful to your reproductive health

According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, infertility is diagnosed after one year of not being able to achieve pregnancy. Even with so many people lined up to register at baby stores, it’s estimated that about 6.1 million American couples experience infertility each year. That’s about 10 percent of the reproductive population.

If you are having some trouble getting pregnant, take a look and see if you are using any herbs.

Maybe you’re thinking that 10 percent isn’t much, and it’s not really something you need to worry about. However, if you are in that 10 percent, the statistic doesn’t matter, as it can be a painful and emotionally trying process to work through. There are many factors that can contribute to infertility, including herbal supplements.

What to Avoid

When Shari Crull was trying to get pregnant, she did something that a lot of people don’t think of. She avoided using any type of herbs. “I had heard from several people that they can interfere with getting pregnant, so I just figured I would avoid them for a while,” she says. Giving up her evening cup of herbal tea was not the hardest thing she’s had to do, and it turned out to be well worth the sacrifice.

“We recommend all herbs be avoided when trying to conceive,” says Dr. Bruce Shapiro, of the Fertility Center of Las Vegas. If you are having some trouble getting pregnant, take a look and see if you are using any herbs. Make sure you ditch the St. John’s wort, echinacea and gingko biloba. They may come highly recommended by your best friend for various reasons, but they are believed to also inhibit your chances of getting pregnant. The best thing to do is not take any chances, and stop using all of them for a while.

Herbs to Avoid While Trying to Conceive-The Other Side of the StoryWhat many people aren’t aware of is that herbal supplements generally have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Therefore, the actual safety and risks associated with using them are unknown for the most part. Furthermore, there are also no regulated manufacturing standards, which means there are no rules that these companies need to follow before selling this product to you.

Because there isn’t extensive research on these supplements, it’s also not known if they could harm your baby, should you become pregnant while using them. Additional reasons to avoid herbs during conception are that they can have estrogenic substances that can impact hormone concentration; they may hurt sperm production, and they may affect fertilizing capability.

Where to Find It

Although experts recommend that you avoid using all herbs while trying to conceive, you may not be aware that some things you use have herbs in them. Today you can get herbal supplements in many forms and products. You could be drinking something that has an herb in it and not even know it. Here are some common herbs you should avoid while trying to conceive. These products can be found in various forms, including pills, liquid extracts and even some teas.

St. John’s Wort: This supplement also goes by the names hypericum perforatum, goatweed, klamath weed, amber touch-and-heal, milleperituis and rosin rose. It has been widely used for treating depression. Among other things, this supplement is used for anxiety, insomnia and stomach upset.

Echinacea: Other names that echinacea goes by include comb flower, hedgehog, snakeroot, scurvy root and American cone flower. This supplement has become popular to use when you have a cold or flu. Its use is to stimulate the immune system.

  • Ginkgo biloba: The ginkgo extract has been used in Chinese medicines throughout history. People use it to reduce inflammation, improve blood flow and as an antioxidant.
  • Dong quai: This supplement also goes by the names tang-Kuei, dang-gui, Angelica polymorpha and Chinese angelica. People who use this often do so to help with menstrual cramps, anemia, managing high blood pressure and arthritis.
  • Black cohosh: Alternative names for black cohosh include black snakeroot, rattleroot, baneberry, richweed, Cimicifuga racemosa and bugwort. Some of the things that this supplement has been used for include menstrual cramps, menopause symptoms and high cholesterol.
  • Wild yams: Other names to describe wild yams include Yuma, Mexican yam, Dioscorea villosa, China root and rheumatism root. This supplement has been used for menstrual cramps, symptoms of menopause and rheumatic conditions.

The Bottom Line

If you are trying to get pregnant, you should refrain from using any herbal supplements. Once you get pregnant, you will need to continue to stay clear of many of them as well. Once the baby is born, you should consult your physician about using them again if you plan to breastfeed.

“We do not recommend using any herbs when trying to conceive; until there are conclusive studies that show the effects it is best to avoid taking them,” Dr. Shapiro says.