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What Is the Connection between Evening Primrose Oil and Fertility?

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  • Written By: Kathleen Howard
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2016
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Evening primrose oil is a natural oil sometimes used to treat fertility problems in women. Taking evening primrose oil is believed to support fertility by enhancing the quality of a woman’s cervical fluid. This oil is also used to reduce premenstrual symptoms (PMS), relieve menstrual discomfort,and balance a woman’s hormones. The connection between evening primrose oil and fertility is often attributed to its high levels of essential fatty acids. Since evening primrose oil has been linked to uterine contractions, women should discontinue using this oil after conception.

The quality of a woman’s cervical fluid can impact her ability to conceive. Evening primrose oil is believed to enhance fertility by increasing the production of egg white cervical mucus. Egg white cervical mucus is the most fertile type of cervical fluid. This fluid is clear, thin and stretchy, which makes it easier for sperm to travel from the vaginal canal into the fallopian tubes. When encompassed in this mucus, sperm can survive for up to five days, thus lengthening the amount of time it has to reach and fertilize the egg.

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The connection between evening primrose oil and fertility is often believed to be due to the oil’s gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) content. This is an essential fatty acid that the body converts to a lipid compound known as prostaglandin E1. Prostaglandin E1 works as a blood thinner, vasodilator and anti-inflammatory agent. Evening primrose oil also contains vitamin E, which is a potent antioxidant. While the connection between evening primrose oil and fertility has not been proven through clinical testing, this oil is commonly included in natural fertility treatments.

Evening primrose oil is not an instant cure for infertility or poor cervical fluid. It typically takes several weeks for this oil to improve the quality of a woman’s cervical fluid. Women who take evening primrose oil should discontinue use after conception, as it might cause uterine contractions. While as of 2011 the connection between evening primrose oil and fertility has not been proven through clinical testing, this oil is commonly included in natural fertility treatments. Couples who are having trouble conceiving should consult their physician to determine if a physical condition is causing infertility.

While many women focus on the connection between evening primrose oil and fertility, this oil is also believed balance female hormones, relieve PMS, and reduce menstrual pain. Regularly taking evening primrose oil capsules might relieve breast tenderness, cramps and muscle aches before and during menstruation. This oil is sometimes also used to treat arthritis, high cholesterol and other medical conditions.

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anon953052
Post 3

Not to belittle a woman's monthly cycle, but PGE1 does a lot more to prevent menstrual cramps. PGE1 is a blood thinner vasodilator and the body's most potent anti-inflammatory. It means controlling cardiovascular disease, lowering blood pressure and relieving arthritis.

ElizaBennett
Post 2

@Kat919 - I also took evening primrose oil, and my OB said it was fine even though I had a prior c-section birth. Because it's an herbal treatment, there just isn't a lot of research into it and what its effects can be, so I think doctors are mostly going by their own medical intuition and common sense. Definitely ask your doc!

I hadn't heard that it could be a home fertility treatment, but it makes sense. A lot of things can throw a woman's menstrual cycle out of whack, and regulating the cycle is often step one. Healthy fats seem to be helpful for that and EPO is basically fat! (Hence the word "oil.") I can see it being a really good complement for other home treatments like sleeping in complete darkness but using a night light when you should be ovulating and making dietary changes.

Kat919
Post 1

Do stop taking the evening primrose after you conceive, but don't throw away the rest of the bottle!

The reason is that you can take it after 36 or 37 weeks of pregnancy to soften the cervix and help prepare the body for labor. It won't necessarily cause you to go into labor, but the theory is that it can make your early prelabor contractions more effective and shorten your labor by helping things to get going.

My doula told me to take 3000 mg a day, with 2000 mg being taken orally and the other pill being inserted vaginally. (She did say that I should skip the vaginal dose on days when my husband and I had sex, and that sex would be a lot more helpful than the EPO at getting things going!)

My doctor was fine with my taking it in late pregnancy, but as always, you should ask yours!

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