Can Evening Primrose Oil Help with Fertility?
When you’re having trouble getting pregnant, everyone seems to have her own advice. Most of this advice is based on old home remedies that millions of women over the centuries swear by, such as taking evening primrose oil to aid fertility.
Can evening primrose oil really help with fertility? Instead of blindly accepting old myths or remedies, you should do your own research. Find out if primrose oil is beneficial for your fertility or if it offers any potential dangers.
What Is Evening Primrose Oil?
Evening primrose oil is oil that is extracted from the seeds of the evening primrose plant.
This plant is native to North America and produces yellow flowers.
It has traditionally been used to help treat eczema, acne, and other skin disorders. However, over the years, people have started to use it for other purposes.
Evening primrose oil is typically extracted from the seeds and then sold in capsule form as a health supplement.
It may offer several health benefits for dealing with specific medical issues such as inflammation, eczema, asthma, arthritis, menstrual pain, and diabetes.
The primary compound responsible for these benefits is gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). GLA is an omega-6 fatty acid found in plants such as the evening primrose. When the body consumes GLA, the fatty acid is converted into other substances, such as prostaglandins (PGE1s) that may help fight inflammation.
Common Health Benefits of Taking Evening Primrose Oil
There are several health benefits that are commonly associated with evening primrose oil. Most of these potential benefits are based on anecdotal evidence instead of scientific studies or research.
People often take evening primrose oil to treat asthma, eczema, breast pain, ADHD, obesity, pre-menstrual syndrome, and psoriasis. Studies involving people suffering from these issues have provided mixed results. However, there are a couple of medical issues where this oil may be effective at offering some form of relief.
Scientific research indicates that evening primrose oil may help improve the symptoms of nerve damage caused by diabetes. However, in these studies,[2, 3] the oil was taken daily for six to 12 months and daily use of evening primrose oil is typically not recommended.
Evening primrose oil may also be beneficial for those suffering from osteoporosis. In several studies, elderly people suffering from osteoporosis experienced increased bone density and less bone loss when taking evening primrose oil with calcium and fish oil.
Taking this oil may also help with hormonal imbalances and inflammation. Both issues can influence fertility in women.
Hormonal imbalances may result in irregular cycles and create an inhospitable environment for fertilization, while inflammation is at the root of most medical conditions.
While evening primrose oil supplements may help with hormonal imbalances and inflammation, there is no evidence to support these claims.
Potential Side Effects of Taking Evening Primrose Oil
Along with the potential benefits, there are potential side effects to taking evening primrose oil, especially when taken daily.
The two most commonly experienced side effects include headaches and an upset stomach. While these two side effects are minor and should go away after you stop taking the oil, they are inconvenient issues to deal with.
Besides headaches and upset stomachs, there are additional potential side effects that have been reported when the oil is taken daily for an extended period.
For example, evening primrose oil may increase the risk of bleeding for those who suffer from bleeding disorders. It is also recommended that you avoid taking evening primrose if you plan to have surgery.
There is also evidence to suggest that evening primrose oil may increase the risk of seizures for those who suffer from epilepsy or schizophrenia. These are also two of the conditions that some people claim evening primrose oil can help treat.
These side effects may not mean much to the average woman, especially if you don’t suffer from bleeding disorders, epilepsy, or schizophrenia.
However, some studies indicate that evening primrose oil may increase the risk of complications with pregnancy. This means that if the evening primrose oil does help increase your fertility and you get pregnant, the oil may have a negative effect on your pregnancy.
Evening primrose oil can also have a negative interaction with certain medications. Possible interactions include the use of anticoagulants and anti-platelet drugs or supplements.
Anticoagulants and antiplatelet medications are typically used to reduce blood clotting. When taken with evening primrose oil, you may have an increased risk of bleeding.
Frequently Asked Questions About Evening Primrose Oil
Evening primrose oil doesn’t appear to have a lot of proven benefits. It also has several known side effects and possible negative interactions with medications. It may even complicate pregnancies. However, you may still have a few questions about this substance and its effects on fertility.
How Can Evening Primrose Oil Affect Your Fertility?
The common belief is that evening primrose oil may help increase the quality of your cervical mucus. This mucus is essential for fertilization as it protects the sperm as it travels to through the uterus and to the egg. A lack of cervical mucus or quality mucus may be the result of hormonal imbalances or inflammation.
The reason why people believe that evening primrose oil may help with fertility is that it may help fight inflammation and correct hormonal imbalances that affect fertility and cervical mucus production. However, there is no evidence to back these claims.
What Is the Dosage of Evening Primrose Oil for Fertility?
If you do decide to take evening primrose oil, you want to avoid taking too much of the substance. Consuming high amounts of evening primrose oil may increase the risk of the side effects such as headaches and an upset stomach.
The recommended dosage is 1500 to 3000 milligrams of evening primrose oil each day. However, it is also recommended that you only take the supplement from the type that you start menstruating to your ovulation.
During the rest of your cycle, you should avoid taking evening primrose oil to reduce the risk of uterine contractions.
Does Taking Evening Primrose Oil Help PCOS?
One hormonal imbalance that is known to negatively affect fertility is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This hormonal disorder causes the ovaries to be enlarged and small cysts to appear around the outer edges. Women suffering from PCOS may also have irregular periods.
As mentioned, evening primrose oil may help correct some hormonal imbalances, including imbalances of the hormones that are affected by PCOS. When you suffer from this condition, you may not have enough progesterone in your body, which may result in delayed or missed periods.
There is no proof that taking evening primrose oil will help with PCOS. While there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that it may help correct some hormonal imbalances, it may not cure or treat the PCOS.
Can You Take Evening Primrose Oil with Clomid?
Clomid is a medication that is commonly used to help increase the production of FSH and LH hormones. These hormones are needed to help stimulate the ovaries and increase fertility. However, Clomid carries a serious risk of side effects.
Over 30% of women who take Clomid experience a reduction in quality and quantity of their cervical mucus. They also experience a thinning of their uterine linings. These issues limit fertility drastically by creating a hostile environment for both sperm and the egg.
Evening primrose oil is often taken specifically to combat these side effects as some people believe that evening primrose oil may increase cervical mucus production and help fight hormonal imbalances.
There is no indication that combining evening primrose oil and Clomid will lead to any negative side effects beyond the individual side effects of either substance. However, there is also no indication that the oil can really help fight the side effects of Clomid.
Can You Take Evening Primrose Oil with Vitex?
Vitex is another herbal supplement that is believed to provide many of the same benefits as evening primrose oil. Similar to primrose oil, it may aid the production of specific hormones that are necessary for your reproductive health, such as LH hormones.
Combining these two supplements may have a beneficial effect on hormone production and regulation. Many women have used both supplements without any negative side effects.
However, you also need to keep in mind that there are other dozens of other factors that impact fertility and anecdotal evidence is not the same as scientific evidence.
While these supplements may have worked for some women, other factors may have influenced their success.
Alternatives to Evening Primrose Oil for Fertility
Instead of taking a potentially harmful supplement to increase your fertility, you may want to find natural alternatives. For example, you may try following the fertility diet.
The fertility diet includes a 10-step approach to improving your diet and overall health. The goal is to make one change to your diet at a time to slowly begin making better eating decisions. This gradual approach is often easier for people to stick with.
Typically, you start by cutting trans fats from your diet, which are known to increase the risk of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. After ditching these fats, you begin including more unsaturated vegetable oils in your diet along with whole grains.
Another alternative to evening primrose oil is to visit your doctor and determine if you have any hormonal issues affecting your fertility. If a specific hormonal imbalance or medical condition is discovered, you can work with your doctor to find an effective treatment.
Final Words: Should You Take Evening Primrose Oil?
Many women take evening primrose oil and claim to have beneficial results. However, there are no scientific studies showing the effectiveness of evening primrose oil. At the same time, evening primrose oil is known to cause potential side effects, especially when taken daily for an extended period.
In the end, evening primrose oil is unlikely to cause any negative issues that may impact your chances of getting pregnant. There is also no evidence to suggest that it can improve your chances of getting pregnant.
It may not hurt to try evening primrose oil to determine if it increases the quality and quantity of cervical mucus. However, there are safer options, such as following the fertility diet or speaking with your doctor about possible ways to deal with hormonal imbalances.