When you’re struggling with PCOS-related infertility (or infertility due to something else) clomid is one of the drugs that is often used to stimulate ovulation.
However, even though clomid (also known as clomiphene or clomifene) can help with ovulation, it has many undesirable side effects.
So, if you’ve found yourself wondering “are there natural alternatives to clomid?” the answer is a resounding “yes!”
In fact there are several herbs that have been shown to work just as effectively – and sometimes, better – than clomid.
And in this post we’re going to take a look at 5 natural substitutes for clomid that you can use.
But before we dive into the main topic, let’s talk about why you might want a natural solution for ovulation.
Clomid has several undesirable and serious side side effects that include (source):
- Abnormal vaginal or uterine bleeding
- Enlarged ovaries that cause pelvic/abdominal pain
- Shortness of breath
- Severe gastro-intestinal symptoms
- Decreased urination
- Flushing (aka hot flashes)
- Tender breasts
- Upset stomach
- Blurred vision and vision changes (which can sometimes be permanent)
As for clomid’s effectiveness, about 70-80% of women are able to ovulate while taking it. (source).
That’s pretty encouraging right?
However, if you’re trying to conceive, then you have a 30% chance of getting pregnant. And that’s over several rounds of Clomid (i.e. it’s not a given that it’ll be successful on the first try).
So, what this means is that there’s a 70% chance that clomid may not help with conception.
Those odds aren’t very encouraging, and given all the side effects that can come up, more women are looking for a natural solutions that they can use to induce ovulation.
So, let’s take a look at what those are!
5 HERBAL ALTERNATIVES TO CLOMID THAT HELP WITH OVULATION AND FERTILITY
A 2017 study done with PCOS-induced rats studied the effects of clomid and ginger on sex hormones.
The study found that at higher doses (350mg/kg) ginger is as effective as clomid and it’s able to increase LH and estrogen, while decreasing progesterone and FSH.
In fact, the study concluded that since “long-term administration of clomiphene citrate has some side effects, the use of ginger as a herbal medicine without any side effects at high doses can be an effective and good alternative in improving PCOS.”
For more on this topic, I recommend reading this post on how to use ginger for pcos.
It outlines all the ways in which ginger helps with PCOS (such as weight loss, regulating blood sugar and more) plus how to use it.
2. Black Cohosh
Black cohosh is a multi-purpose herb that helps women throughout all phases of their menstrual cycle (from reproductive years through to menopause).
And when it comes to ovulation, research indicates that black cohosh is capable of stimulating ovulation in women with PCOS (source).
So, how does black cohosh do this?
Well it acts on the nervous system.
You see, different parts of the nervous system (such as the hypothalamus and pituitary gland) respond to your natural estrogen.
And by responding to estrogen, those glands release hormones that affect your monthly cycle and ovulation in particular.
Now, it turns out that black cohosh is able to intervene in hormonal processes and regulate the action of the pituitary gland.
This action causes the pituitary to release hormones that stimulate ovulation.
It’s important to note one thing here: even though black cohosh steps into hormonal processes, there are no signs that it causes hormone disruption or interference (source).
Isn’t that beautiful? It’s a welcome change from a world full of hormone disruptors!
Cinnamon is another herb that can act as a natural replacement for clomid.
A 2016 study found that PCOS patients who took a cinnamon supplement had almost twice as many menstrual cycles over a 6-month period (compared to a placebo group).
One reason why cinnamon can help with ovulation is because it’s very effective at regulating insulin levels (which tends to be quite high when you have PCOS).
And as I mentioned in this post on the 7 steps for natural PCOS relief, high insulin can cause the ovaries to:
- make more androgens and less estrogen.
- interferes with ovulation.
- delays egg maturation.
- degrades egg quality.
There are two main reasons why you should consider using vitex as a natural clomid alternative:
- First, vitex regulates elevated prolactin levels.
- Second, it improves luteal phase defect (i.e. a short luteal phase).
Prolactin is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland and it plays a role in regulating our monthly cycle.
When prolactin levels are too high, we can end up with irregular periods, fertility difficulties and more.
LUTEAL PHASE DEFECT
A luteal phase defect means you have a short luteal phase (usually less than 10 days).
A combination of low LH (luteinizing hormone) and low progesterone are generally responsible for luteal phase defect.
You see, after ovulation has occurred:
- LH transforms your follicle into something called a corpeus luteum.
- A new corpeus luteum is made during every menstrual cycle and one of its main tasks is to produce progesterone.
- That progesterone is necessary for thickening your uterine lining in preparation for a possible pregnancy.
- If there’s no pregnancy, then the lining sheds and you get your period.
However, if there are issues related to the corpeus luteum (for example, it doesn’t develop properly) then you can end up with insufficient levels of progesterone (source).
And this shortens your luteal phase, making it difficult for pregnancy to occur.
So, how can vitex help?
- lower prolactin levels.
- boost the function of the corpeus luteum.
- regulate LH and progesterone levels.
- improve luteal phase defect.
In addition to all of the above, vitex seems to increase a woman’s chances of getting pregnant.
This was seen in a group of women who had been trying to conceive for 6 – 36 months.
An herbal blend, which had vitex as one of its ingredients, improved hormone levels after 3 months and led to 26% of the women getting pregnant.
(By the way…that herbal blend also contained green tea, L-arginine, vitamins and minerals. This further highlights the importance of using a balanced multivitamin, multi-mineral supplement like the one I recommend in this list of hormone-balancing supplements).
5. Tribulus Terrestris
Tribulus is an herb that is most often used to enhance sexual performance and for boosting testosterone in men.
However, in women tribulus seems to provide hormone-regulating benefits that help with ovulation.
One study done with rats showed that tribulus reduces the number of ovarian cysts, increases the number of follicles and also increases the number of corpora lutea (structures in the ovaries that produce hormones necessary for conception as well as for sustaining a pregnancy).
By increasing the number of follicles, this increases the chances of having a dominant follicle that will eventually release an egg.
RELATED QUESTIONS ABOUT NATURAL CLOMID REPLACEMENTS
What tea is good for fertility?
Green tea can be helpful for fertility because it supports liver function, making it easier for your body to get rid of hormone disruptors.
Nettle leaf tea is also a natural detoxifier and anti-inflammatory tea that you can use.
Can turmeric boost fertility?
Although turmeric isn’t considered a fertility herb, it’s one of the best anti-inflammatory herbs to add to your diet.
Since inflammation is a major underlying cause of hormonal imbalance, turmeric can help you address the root cause and as a result, contribute to healthy fertility.
For more on turmeric I recommend reading this post on the benefits of turmeric for PCOS (and the 4 ways to use it)
Can garlic help one conceive?
Garlic contains sulfur, which the body uses to make glutathione. Glutathione is an antioxidant that the body produces and it’s sometimes called the “master detoxifier” because it binds to toxins and transports them out of the body.
The less toxins you have in your bloodstream, the less inflammation and hormonal issues you experience, which will make it easier to conceive.
CONCLUSION: IS THERE A NATURAL CLOMID?
Ginger, black cohosh, cinnamon, vitex and tribulus terrestris are 5 herbs that you can use instead of clomid.
Although each herb has its own specific mechanism, the end result is always the same: they help regulate your hormones so that you can ovulate.
Now, do keep in mind that inducing ovulation is just one piece of having a healthy menstrual cycle.
You still have to have an actual egg that is released.
And if you’re trying to conceive, that egg has to be healthy in order for conception to happen.
In addition, your body has to be in good health to make sure that you sustain the pregnancy and you have a pleasurable 9-month journey (for you and your little one).
In order to achieve all this, you need a diet and lifestyle that balances hormones and keeps inflammation low.
To get you started, I’ve put together two different 28-day programs that address both diet and lifestyle. Each program comes with recipes, a meal planning guide and bonus resources to help you transform your body.
Whether you have no idea where to start with “healthy eating” or you want a gentle detox, these programs are designed for you.
Go here to grab the 28-day program that meets your needs.