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Herbs & PCOS

Herbal medicine has been a central part of fertility treatments for centuries, and there are many herbal combinations known to improve ovulation rates. We’ve researched data on the use of herbal medicine for ovulation disorders and found the following published information:

Personalised herbal combinations

As the PFPs demonstrate, people have different reasons for anovulation, and they all require different approaches for maximum success. A meta-analysis (the gold standard for research) showed that bespoke herbal medicine for unexplained infertility is: i

  • 3x more effective at achieving live birth than Clomid
  • 2x more effective than IVF
  • 1/10th of the cost

The herbs have the added benefit of avoiding the Clomid side effects (thinning the womb lining, increased miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy risk). Different personalised herbal combinations are available for different patterns that are seen with PCOS.

With Clomid

Combining (PCOS#1) medicinal herbs with Clomid when treating women with PCOS significantly increases: ii

  • Ovulation rates
  • Pregnancy rates
  • It also prevents thinning of the womb lining

With lifestyle changes

Combining (PCOS#2) herbal medicine with lifestyle changes, compared to just making lifestyle changes, significantly benefits overweight women with PCOS (but not normal weight women). After three months, the women taking the herbs were: iii

  • 33% more likely to have regular periods, and on average, their cycles are 43 days shorter than the lifestyle group
  • Higher pregnancy rates (3.9x higher)

They also experienced:

  • Better quality of life
  • Better mood, with less depression, anxiety and stress
  • Weight loss (3kg less in 3 months on average)
  • Lower insulin levels
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Higher FSH levels

Alongside IVF

When women with PCOS take the (PCOS#3) combination of medicinal herbs for three months before having IVF stimulation, there are significant benefits: iv

  • Lower AMH levels in follicular fluids
  • More eggs are retrieved
  • More fertilised eggs
  • Higher pregnancy rates
  • Higher birth rates
  • More deliveries at full term


Black cohosh

Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemose) extract is a viable alternative (or addition) v to Clomid treatment, and one study found black cohosh nearly doubled the pregnancy rates (at 20mg/day for ten days starting on day 2 of the cycle). Significant improvements in LH/ FSH ratios and lower LH levels were also seen in the black cohosh group. 

The women in the black cohosh group also had significantly thicker womb linings and higher progesterone levels than the Clomid group, making it especially attractive to older women and Hot or Blood PFPs. vi

There are clear benefits to herbal medicine for PCOS in various scenarios, on their own, with lifestyle changes and in conjunction with medical stimulation. Morefertile has collaborated with Herbalism Health to bring a range of herbal products (backed by published research) to our members.


i Efficacy of Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine in the management of female infertility: A systematic review; Karin Ried, Keren Stuart. Complementary Therapies in Medicine (2011) 19, 319—331
ii Huayun X et al. “Efficacy of Yushen Tongluo Granule Combined with Clomiphene Citrate for Anovulatory Infertility: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine / 2022 / Article ID 7933611
iii  Susan Arentz et al. “Combined Lifestyle and Herbal Medicine in Overweight Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): A Randomized Controlled Trial” Phytotherapy Res. 31: 1330–1340 (2017) Published online 7 July 2017 in Wiley Online
iv Shahin AY, Mohammed SA: Adding the phytoestrogen Cimicifugae Racemosae to clomiphene induction cycles with timed intercourse in polycystic ovary syndrome improves cycle outcomes and pregnancy rates-a randomised trial. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2014, 30 (7): 505-510. 10.3109/09513590.2014.895983.

v By No machine-readable author provided. Valérie75 assumed (based on copyright claims). CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=875428
viRole of phyto-oestrogens in ovulation induction in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome’. Kamel HH. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. May 2013;168(1):60-63.
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