By Amy Day, ND
Question: I'm experiencing irregular cycles and infertility and I want to try Vitex, but I'm concerned about it increasing luteinizing hormone (LH).
I've heard that it increases LH and one of the hallmarks of PCOS is a high LH to FSH ratio. Isn't that just adding fuel to the fire?
Answer: Many women wonder whether they should use the herb Vitex agnus castus, or chaste tree berry, to help with their PCOS symptoms.
In my practice, it has been very effective at encouraging ovulation, managing PMS, regulating the cycle and improving fertility, even in women with polycystic ovary syndrome.
There are two important factors to keep in mind when deciding whether to use this extract.
First, it is not appropriate for every woman with PCOS. I think of it less as a PCOS treatment and more as a treatment for irregular cycles and infertility. If you have PCOS symptoms but are not concerned about fertility or ovulation, then there are other treatments that would be a better fit.
However, if you are struggling with irregular cycles, infertility, a lack of ovulation and low progesterone levels, then Vitex could work wonderfully for you.
The second factor to keep in mind is timing.
Your hormone levels are changing every day of your cycle. The PCOS blood test for LH:FSH ratio is usually run on Day 3 of the cycle. This is a time when LH is supposed to be low, so a high number indicates a problem.
However, as a woman approaches mid-cycle, LH must spike higher in order to stimulate a normal ovulation and then appropriate progesterone production.
Vitex does not simply elevate LH; it works at a regulatory level and helps to orchestrate this whole process.
If you are hoping to ovulate, you want a high LH but you want it to happen at the right time, and Vitex can help make that happen.
So, I do not see polycystic ovarian syndrome as a contraindication to using this product. In fact, I've seen it help many women with PCOS to achieve successful pregnancies.
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