Vitex for luteal phase defect
Is Vitex a good natural health product for luteal phase defect? My progesterone levels are low and I have irregular menses. I am 27 years old and I have been trying to conceive for 2 years and I have never been pregnant before.
My cycles are 30-32 and sometimes even 40 days apart and my LP is about 9-11 days long. I also have heavy menses with lots of cramps and clots. Because of my age my doctor does not recommend fertility drugs unless I really want to, which I don't.
I would like to try the natural route first. Can Vitex help me regulate my cycle and correct my hormonal imbalance? Would I be able to conceive? How long will it take? Is Vitex safe if I get pregnant?
Vitex agnus-castus, also referred to as Chasteberry, stimulates the pituitary gland to produce luteinizing hormone, which in turn stimulates the production of progesterone during the second part of the menstrual cycle. In cases of luteal phase defect (LPD) progesterone levels are lower than normal. Vitex helps balance progesterone in cases of estrogen dominance.
Luteal phase defect is also called corpus luteum insufficiency. The corpus luteum is the tissue that surrounds the follicle, which contains the egg.
The corpus luteum makes progesterone and signals the preparation of the uterus for implantation in case fertilization has occurred in order to stop the menstrual cycle. If progesterone secretion is too low, no progesterone surge will occur and as a result the woman may not ovulate or will ovulate too late and if the egg gets fertilized there is not enough time for implantation.
Vitex stimulates the production of luteinizing hormone, which in turn results in an increase in progesterone production. In a way, it mimics the role of progesterone without being estrogenic.
It also balances the production of prolactin, which is present in higher levels in women with menstrual irregularities associated with PCOS and luteal phase defect. Vitex, in clinical studies, has shown to reduce prolactin preventing high levels to inhibit ovulation.
Vitex should be taken for several months in order to balance the hormones and regularize the menstrual cycle. It will usually take a couple of cycles to notice improvement. The result will depend on how much unbalanced your hormonal system is.
It is a good idea to monitor your menstrual cycle through fertility charting in order to determine if Vitex is having a positive effect on lengthening your luteal phase, which should be greater than 10 days in order to allow successful implantation.
Vitex should not be taken during pregnancy. It is safe while trying to conceive but it should be stopped once you find out that you are pregnant.
It is also useful right after pregnancy to help increase milk supply. It can be taken as early as the first day after delivery. And should only be taken until milk supply establishes itself.
Vitex alleviates the symptoms of PMS (headaches, mood swings, irritability, cravings, bloating, weakness, breast tenderness), fibroids, endometriosis, PCOS, heavy periods, and hormonal acne.
It is not recommended to take Vitex while on fertility drugs. If you are taking any medication, consult with a herbalist before taking Vitex.
In my experience Vitex works best when taken as a tincture. Many women find that 60 drops once a day preferably in the morning is what does the trick. If you prefer capsules, usually the recommended dosage is 1000 mg per day.
Avoid animal meat, animal fat, and increase B6 vitamin intake.