How can Vitex (Chaste berry) help me get pregnant?
What is Vitex?
Also known as Chaste Berry, Vitex Agnus-Castus, is an herb that has used to correct hormonal imbalances in women for centuries. As one of the oldest phytomedicines, Vitex was used by ancient Greek physicians, the English, and the Catholic Church to suppress the libido. Other common uses for this well-known herb long ago include promoting the external healing of wounds, remedying complaints related to the spleen, and during child childbirth. In America, early physicians used Vitex as an emmenagogic and to stimulate lactation. However, in contemporary times, there is no specific evidence suggesting that Vitex actually does suppress the libido as was previously thought.
How Does Vitex Promote Pregnancy?
Vitex is well known for its role in providing women with relief caused by hormonal imbalances such as Premenstrual Syndrome. Women who suffer from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) might also find relief from Vitex. This is because Vitex can promote ovulation and menstruation, preventing amenorrhea and other common conditions that compromise the ability to conceive.
Often, menstrual problems are the result of luteal phase defects or corpus luteum inefficiencies, two issues related to insufficient progesterone during menstruation. Some women who have PCOS might also produce too much prolactin, a condition that can impact fertility. By using Vitex, women can help to avoid both of these issues.
How Does Vitex Work?
Vitex increases production of luteinizing hormone (LH) and inhibits the release of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) by acting on both the pituitary glands and the hypothalamus. By doing so, there is a shift in the ration of progesterone to estrogen, promoting an increase in progesterone. Because this effect is an indirect effect, it is important to note that Vitex is not a hormone itself.
If the body is producing enough FSH to stimulate the ovaries, suggesting that the ovaries can also develop follicles but menstruation still doesn’t occur, the issue likely lies in progesterone secretions that aren’t promoting the release of the egg. Women who experience this problem have sufficient levels of estrogen to promote growth of the endometrium, or lining of the uterus, and are able to pass this lining through the cervical opening and vagina to result in menstruation. This would suggest that the issue lies in the pituitary glands or hypothalamus. Luckily, Vitex can remedy this issue by altering the functioning of these key structures to treat infertility.
Vitex can also treat women with luteal phase defect, a condition in which high levels of the hormone prolactin is being released. By inhibiting the pituitary gland, Vitex can minimize the amount of prolactin that is secreted, promoting a healthy cycle. This is even more useful if you are under a lot of stress.
Is Vitex Effective?
Relief is generally noticeable around your third or fourth menstrual cycle after taking Vitex and immediate results are extremely uncommon. Although Vitex, or Chaste Berry, does work exceptionally well, it is important to remember that it isn’t a hormone. This means that you shouldn’t expect similar results as if you were taking progesterone or synthetic progestin, which can cause a withdrawal bleed within just a few days.
How Much Vitex Should I Take?
Each women reacts differently to Vitex, therefore the amount that you take will be unique to your own physiology. A licensed naturopathic physician will be able to guide the amount that you consume, and you can take Vitex for 18 consecutive months without experiencing any issues. Once you become pregnant, you should stop taking Vitex, which is typically consumed in the morning in a single dose.