*** I feel as though this post requires a disclaimer. I’ve attempted to break this post into specific sections as to accurately share the study details separate from my own thoughts and opinions. I certainly don’t want to cloud the actual study with my own feelings, as I have no medical/infertility-related training. The sections which do include my opinions are just that, my opinions based on only my own personal experiences. Let me also add that I am in no way completely against ‘natural’ or ‘unconventional’ infertility treatments although I will admit I’m rather skeptical as to the ‘proof’ which is portrayed on the internet, and thus I asked my husband to search for published studies out of pure curiosity. Attached is the only article he found published, although please keep in mind his search was limited to chasteberry (also known as Vitex) and its effects on infertility. Also please note his search was limited to those published within the US, but only because he has greatest access to such publishing. This study does make mention of studies completed and published out the US. To date there are no clinical trials related to Vitex, nor is it FDA approved as of this post. ***
A little background before I get to the actual study… While our search was limited to chasteberry and infertility, the study itself focuses on FertilityBlend® for Women, of which one of the ingredients is chasteberry. There are several other ingredients in this supplement, so feel free to review those details and others about this specific product which can be found on the maker’s website.
Also of note on the website is a customer testimonial section, however, none of the sources provided qualify as medical journals, and therefore I have not included their data in this post… I’m specifically writing in reference to the attached study found within the Bio-Medical Library Periodicals. More information on the source is available on the third page of the article; the entire article is attached here. Feel free to download and read at your leisure, I double-checked that we’re not infringing on its copyright 🙂
Okay, so the study… I wanted to copy and paste the highlights, but since my copy is a PDF, I unfortunately can’t. Below is a brief summary, I’ve tried to only rephrase to save space so PLEASE let me know if I’ve misrepresented the actual study in any way, as that was not my intention.
Purpose: To determine the impact of nutritional supplementation on female fertility.
Introduction: Vitex agnus-castus (chasteberry) is an herb that has been used for gynecological disorders for centuries. It can decrease prolactin levels, increase luteinizing hormone (LH) levels, and result in better development of the corpus luteum. Clinical studies in Europe (references 2-4) show Vitex increased progesterone levels, improved fertility, increased pregnancy rates (reference 5), reduced PMS symptoms, and regulated menstrual cycles (references 5-7).
In another study (reference 10) it was found that drinking green tea, known for its antioxidants, over caffeinated beverages, increased the chance of conception per cycle by 2-fold.
L-arginine, an essential amino acid, helps improve circulation to the reproductive organs (reference 20), which may enhance oocyte development and embryo implantation.
Materials and Methods: A thorough literature review of all ingredients in FertilityBlend® for Women demonstrates a long history of safe use for women with a variety of gynecological disorders, as well as for potentially pregnant women. The AHPA Botanical Safety Handbook (reference 23) states that traditional use of chasteberry includes prevention of miscarriage during the first trimester of pregnancy in cases of progesterone insufficiency.
Ninety-three (93) women, aged 24-42 years, who had tried unsuccessfully to conceive for six to 36 months, completed the study.
Results: After three months, the FertilityBlend (FB) group of fifty-three (53) women demonstrated a trend toward increased mean mid-luteal progesterone, but among the women basal pretreatment (progesterone of <9 ng/ml), the increase in progesterone was highly significant.
The average number of days with luteal-phase basal temperatures >98˚F increased significantly in the FB group.
Both short and long cycles (<27 days or >32 days before the study) were normalized in the FB group. The placebo group (P) of forty (40) women did not show any significant changes in these parameters.
After three months, 14 of the 53 women in the FB group were pregnant (26%) compared to four of the 40 (10%) in the placebo group.
Three additional women conceived after six months on FB (total of 17 of the 53; 32%).
Of the 21 total who became pregnant: mean age 34.3 years; TTC 18.2 months; 52% had low initial levels of progesterone <9 ng/ml; 19% later experienced a miscarraige, although this percentage is among expected values in all patient populations.
No significant side-effects were noted.
Conclusion: Nutritional supplements could provide an alternative or adjunct to conventional fertility therapies.
First let me say, after reading the study, I ended up ordering a 6-month supply of this product. And for those of you who really know me, this was huge for me! I’m not without concerns regarding the study though, which include:
- the study only included 93 women, which in my opinion is certainly not enough to come to any true, ‘proven’ conclusions
- while the mean TTC of the women included in the study was roughly 20 months for both the FB group and the placebo group, the mean of any population doesn’t explain the entire picture; those of you who have taken statistics understand this… some women in the study had been TTC for only 6 months, therefore, in my opinion, I don’t consider them to necessarily have an infertility issue
Other general concerns I have include:
- the product is ridiculously expensive when you consider the actual active ingredients; these items could be purchased separately for a fraction of the cost
- I did not purchase the ingredients separately, mainly because I’m lazy and cost is not significant to my budget, but that being said, they are certainly ripping off women looking for a ‘cure’ who may be more desperate (no offense) than the average consumer
So ultimately I purchased this product simply because it could help me. Again, I’m not against unconventional treatments, I just often feel the internet portrays them as miracles without the data to support their claims, this again being one of those, as 93 people does not prove a miracle, in my opinion. I would not have purchased this product if I had not first reviewed each ingredient in it with an MD, in this case, my husband. There are several sites on the internet, for example, webMD, which states chasteberry is not safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding, but my only assumption is they are required to state this due to liability concerns.
Please let me know if you have any questions 🙂