Fertility, pregnancy and childbirth
You won’t be surprised to learn that many different traditions of herbal medicine include herbs that are prized for enhancing fertility.
These herbs are valued for their role in balancing hormones, regulating the menstrual cycle and addressing conditions such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis and Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, all of which act as barriers to conception.
Infertility is on the rise with an estimated 1 in 5 couples experiencing some sort of problem. It can be men or women who are manifesting the problem, sometimes both. In cases of sub-fertility, herbs can often provide the catalyst required to move the scales in the right direction. Herbal medicine offers a natural, safe treatment and may be worth trying before embarking on expensive IVF treatment. I usually suggest that a client persist with herbal treatment for six months before we review how things are going. It may not take that long but, in that period, there may be evidence of some significant changes that look positive for the hoped-for outcome. Supporting fertility in the course of IVF treatment is another possibility offered by herbal treatment.
Having a regular menstrual cycle is a positive first step when considering starting a family. It allows for more effective planning by predicting when ovulation will occur. Regularity in the cycle also suggests that the Follicular phase and the Luteal phase of the cycle are of the desired length. Tackling issues such as PCOS requires some months of working with herbal medicine in order to regulate the cycle. PCOS may also lead to anovulatory cycles, where ovulation does not occur.
Likewise endometriosis, uterine fibroids and other complications pose complex challenges for people who wish to get pregnant.
Some gentle herbs to support people in the course of a pregnancy may help with certain symptoms which present during pregnancy. These include persistent morning sickness, heartburn, fluid retention or raised blood pressure. Whilst it is desirable not to have to take prescription medicine over the course of a pregnancy, this is not always possible for some people with chronic conditions which require ongoing treatment. There are many herbs that are safe to take when pregnant, and they can help alleviate conditions related to the pregnancy or other troublesome conditions.
I always like to advise on diet as well when working with pregnant people, just to ensure that they are optimising their nutrition.
Some herbal teas such as raspberry leaf tea and nettle tea have a well-established use in pregnancy and aside from helping with calcium and iron levels, help prepare the body for labour and birth.