Women health

 What to avoid when trying to conceive

Aug. 10, 2000 — Experts caution that certain herbal remedies, such as St. John's wort, a well-known herb used to treat depression, may be avoided by couples attempting to conceive.

Some of the herbs that may have an impact on fertility include ginkgo Biloba, echinacea, and St. John's wort, according to specialists. Any herbal supplements should be avoided by both men and women seeking to get pregnant, and they should consult a professional before using them.

Infertility affects 6.1 million American women and their partners, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Up to 60 million Americans use herbal treatments regularly, according to the most recent figures.

According to Gilbert Ross, MD, medical officer of the American Council on Science and Health in New York, "Many herbal preparations have been shown to include estrogenic chemicals, which can affect sex-hormone concentrations and fertility in both males and females." The main hormone used for sex in women is estrogen.

In order to block ovulation and prevent conception, he explains that birth control pills, which also include estrogen, interact with natural hormones.

In general, Ross advises against turning to supplements if you're having trouble getting pregnant. Instead, talk to a reproductive doctor first.

Echinacea and ginkgo Biloba may reduce sperm production and the capacity to fertilize an egg, according to a written statement by Richard Blackwell, MD, an obstetrician/gynecologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Masood Khatamee, MD, a fertility specialist and clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at New York University as well as the executive director of the Fertility Research Foundation in New York, advises consumers to exercise caution while purchasing any herbal supplements.

"These herbs haven't been researched at all. Take great care when utilizing them,"

According to Pamela Madsen, executive director of the American Infertility Association, a national nonprofit organization with its headquarters in New York, "Patients need to be informed that herbal supplements are medication and can have an impact on your therapy." Without consulting their doctor, no patient should take herbs while receiving infertility treatments.

Men's and women's fertility is also known to be impacted by the following factors:

Smoking of cigarettes

While the precise mechanism by which smoking reduces fertility is uncertain, some research indicates that smokers may be more likely to experience irregular ovulation. According to a study from the Berkeley University School of Public Health, smoking significantly hinders women's ability to get pregnant. According to the study, smoking less than half a pack per day caused a 50% loss in fertility after a year.

feminine lubricants

Many lubricants destroy sperm, which might impact fertility, according to Madsen. "Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that these substances are harmful to sperm [movement] and viability," continues Blackwell.


According to Khatami, aging is the main factor that affects fertility in women. "Age determines when a woman should seek reproductive assistance. Wait one year if you are between 20 and 30 years old, but after three months if you are older." Age has an impact on both men and women. According to a study published in a recent edition of the journal Human Reproduction, a man's chances of successfully getting his spouse pregnant in a given year of trying decrease by roughly 3% annually beyond the age of 24.

The choice of underwear

"We are aware that when men wear tight underwear, their testicles are closer to the body. You are heating [the testicles], which destroys the sperm and reduces fertility "Madsen explains. According to several recent studies, cycling and driving for long periods of time may both decrease male fertility because they might cause heat to build up in the scrotum, the pouch that houses the testicles and other reproductive organs.


According to Madsen, obesity, rapid weight reduction, and intense exercise can all affect a woman's ability to conceive. According to Khatami, a woman's hormones and consequently her fertility may be impacted when she loses an excessive quantity of body fat.


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