Vitex, also called chasteberry and chaste tree, is an herbal supplement that is said to improve fertility in women. Nutritional supplement manufacturers and some natural health experts assert that it helps women conceive, normalizes menstruation, prevents miscarriage, improves a woman’s supply of breast milk, and provides many other health benefits. Some research studies suggest that using Vitex for fertility is effective, and some women report that it has helped them resume regular menstruation and conceive. Researchers may need to perform additional studies before they can determine how effective it really is, however Vitex is a perennial herb, which means it continues to grow each year.
Its scientific name is Vitex agnus castus, and its flowers bloom from May to September. It is the dried fruit of the Vitex plant that is used in alternative medicine, not only for dealing with infertility, but also for conditions ranging from premenstrual syndrome to acne.
Often, women use Vitex for fertility, hoping that this natural remedy will help them to conceive a child. Research suggests that it may have the ability to increase production of progesterone in a woman’s body, which may help prevent early miscarriage and even help correct deficiencies in hormones that may interfere with successful implantation of a fertilized egg in a woman’s uterus. Some studies have produced evidence that supplementing with Vitex may also have an effect on the hormone estrogen. This hormone also plays a important role in female fertility.
There are no iron-clad dosage recommendations for using Vitex for fertility, however, and using too much or too little may hamper its effectiveness.
Interestingly, Vitex may also have an effect on a woman's ability to breastfeed once she's had a successful pregnancy. At high doses, Vitex may interfere with a hormone called prolactin, which is important in breast milk production. When it is taken in lower does, however, it may actually help improve milk production.
Since Vitex is a supplement and not a medication that has been well studied, women may do well to discuss it with their doctors before using it for fertility. A doctor may be able to help a woman understand what to expect when using Vitex and determine whether it is safe for her to use. Additionally, a doctor may want to monitor a woman for adverse reactions while she is taking Vitex for fertility. In most cases, women stop using vitex once they've conceived or gradually wean themselves from it in the early months of pregnancy.