From an aromatherapist's point of view, the best essential oils for fertility are ones like clary sage and ylang ylang that support balanced hormone function and oils like rose, geranium, and myrrh that support healthy uterine function. Similarly, rose can also help balance male fertility; essential oils are one of the best ways to balance stress, one of the fertility’s worst enemies. In this article, we’ll look at some of the ways these oils might be able to help if you are looking to conceive and the different ways to use aromatherapy to support you in your conception journey.
This is a complex subject with high financial and emotional stakes, so I will preface the essential oils for fertility with some bits and pieces that are worth considering even before you buy your oil bottles.
FDA guidelines forbid us from saying that essential oils can treat anything, and rightly so. As natural products, they have not been adequately tested to see predicted outcomes in the majority population and, as such, do not carry the licenses to call them drugs; since only drugs can be said to “treat” or “cure'', we do not have permission or legal right to say these things.
Further, since it would be ethically unsound to do experiments on pregnant women or fetuses, no data exists on how essential oils affect the unborn child or the mother’s body.
Sadly, one in seven couples struggle to conceive, but there can be many reasons, including male or fertility issues and even incompatibilities between a couple’s sperm and eggs. Moreover, tragically many women conceive easily, but the pregnancies fail to go full term.
There is no way to legislate whether essential oils could help in all these situations. However, we do know there are certain things that they can do which may support healthy fertility. For this reason, this article is written from my experience as an aromatherapist, having spent part of my career supporting people undergoing fertility treatment rather than as if it were textbook recommendations.
The language of infertility is cruel and harsh, so rather than going Biblical and calling someone “barren,” I shall merely say fertile women vs. someone struggling to conceive. In doing so, I acknowledge that pregnancy is not the only thing always on a fertile person’s mind or that struggling to conceive is an identifier in any other subject than this.
Also Read: Essential Oils for Pregnancy
My Work Experience in Essential Oils for Fertility
We might say ironically or tragically, my initiation into the world of fertility treatment came when a family friend came to see me on a stand I was working on in a department store in 1993. I know the date because I remember when she sat beside me and asked what I knew about infertility, I was a seven months pregnant beached whale with feet so swollen they had puffed through the holes in my sandals.
I didn’t know where to put myself. I was immediately reminded of how blessed I had been.
My initial reaction, erroneously thinking that infertility was a done deal, was to say I didn’t think any essential oils could help, but there were ones that could help manage the stress. Over the coming months of treating her, I learned that infertility was much more nuanced than that and began learning the different oils that could be used to support someone with infertility issues. Later, I would be asked by an infertility clinic to take referrals for women undergoing treatment to help them to manage their stress.
To answer the question that may be going through some of your minds, yes, the family friend did achieve a healthy pregnancy which resulted in the birth of a daughter who has now graduated from university.
Also Read: Essential Oils for Postpartum Depression
Using Essential Oils for Fertility Treatment
The disclaimer at the beginning of the post should give you some clues as to what I am about to say. In the same way, as there is no scientific proof for essential oils for fertility, neither is their proof that they will cause you to miscarry. Our guidelines for this are based on the likelihood and care of your outcome. So, for example, clary sage should not be used in the early days of pregnancy. It mimics estrogen bringing about similar bodily changes as estrogen does. Estrogen affects progesterone balance, and pregnancy requires a progesterone-rich substrate to survive. Oils like fennel, aniseed, and clary sage would all compromise this.
What we do want, though, is good hormonal balance, and clary sage can help maintain that.
We also want a nice, fit uterus that is healthy enough to carry a pregnancy. We want it to be tight, toned, and ready to work. Rose and myrrh oils are great for this. However, uterus tightening is a contraction. Contractions are great in later pregnancy but problematic otherwise.
So we have a paradox.
First, I would say that it is best not to topically use essential oils for fertility when you are having fertility treatment. Use them in the weeks to your appointment, but not while actively trying to conceive.
Clinic waiting lists are long, so this is a great time to invest in getting your body right. Dieting, exercising, reducing drinking, and toning your uterus with essential oils for fertility. I usually recommend taking six months where you use contraception (condoms if you are cleansing your system of the pill). Just enjoy sex, experiment with some of the aphrodisiac oils - most of which are used for fertility, incidentally, and prepare yourself for your fertility treatment.
If you are actively trying to get pregnant and don’t want to use a condom (which makes sense), the best painful indicator of when it would be safe to use essential oils is menstruation. If you start to bleed, it is highly likely that it will be safe to use your essential oils. That means you have about a week until you need to stop at ovulation. (Read the later section on the Luteal Phase for more help.)
DO NOT USE ANY ESSENTIAL OILS FOR FERTILITY DURING TREATMENT CYCLES
Inhaling Essential Oils for Fertility
Again, theoretically, this could be problematic. Inhalation is often overlooked as a powerful medium, but we know it affects hormonal balance.
That said, I am of the mind that the proven benefits of reducing stress outweigh the supposed risks of negative hormonal balance, so I tend to recommend observing safety guidelines as if you are already pregnant. That is, avoiding inhaling things like rose and clary sage during those weeks of treatment but exploiting the soothing effects of oils like lavender, chamomile, and geranium for all they are worth.
Also Read: Essential Oils For Menstrual Cramps
Using Essential Oils for Fertility in the Bath and Massage
There are oils that you should not use in pregnancy at all, but the list would be too exhaustive to consider them all. This list only pertains to the oils featured in this post.
Do not use fennel essential oil during pregnancy.
Avoid rose, jasmine, ylang ylang, clary sage, and myrrh in the first 37 weeks of pregnancy.
Avoid all oils during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy.
Using Essential Oils That are Not for Fertility
To answer the question that would run through my mind, all essential oils are problematic for the first trimester, at least.
Consider how the tea tree supports healthy immunity, encouraging white blood cells to overpower foreign bodies. In the early days of pregnancy, there is no way of knowing if the body recognizes the embryonic cells as part of itself. Theoretically, oils like tea tree and eucalyptus could be a blastocyst problem.
Also Read: Essential Oils for Menstrual Mood Swings
The Connection Between Essential Oils for Fertility and Stress
Most of us know a story of someone who has had IVF to conceive and then can conceive a second child normally. Or, for a family with an adopted child, a natural pregnancy unexpectedly happens later in life. It’s been clear for many years that stress can be a massive factor in whether one is conceived or not.
Moreover, the psychiatric statistics around infertility issues are shocking. A 2004 study found that 40% of the women presenting at a clinic for fertility issues reported feelings of anxiety, depression, or both. (Rooney, 2018) (Lynch, 2012)
A literature review to discover how prevalent psychological symptoms are in infertility revealed that 25% to 60% of infertile individuals reported psychiatric symptoms and that these anxiety and depression levels were significantly higher than in the control group of fertile people. (Rooney, 2018) (De Berardis, 2014)
Whether stress is causal to infertility or conception problems creates psychological stress is unclear. While it seems likely that both may be true, research seems to be having a hard time proving that stress negatively affects fertility. Paradoxically some studies say yes, and others point to no. However, levels of the stress hormones cortisol (Massey, 2016), (Lynch, 2014) and alpha-amylase are higher in the serum in women struggling to conceive than in fertile women. (Rooney, 2018)
Also Read: Essential Oils for Menopause
Essential Oils for Fertility Cycles
In an ideal world, you would use essential oils for fertility support to get your cycles right before you start treatment. In a hopeful world, that would mean you feel pregnant before you even have your first appointment.
There are four main objectives to using essential oils for fertility at this point.
- To create the best hormonal balance available.
- To tone the equipment required - not just the uterus but also the pituitary gland that runs the hormones needed in pregnancy.
- To reduce stress and maintain emotional and mental balance
- To achieve a healthy length of the menstrual cycle, we must understand the luteal phase.
The Luteal Phase
I spoke earlier about stopping your oils as you ovulate. Presumably, you have some kind of technology to indicate this, but there is also a biological signal that can help you.
Most people understand how ovulation works. An egg is released down the fallopian tubes hoping to be fertilized.
They also understand that estrogen and progesterone are important. However, there are two hidden phases that they may not have understood. The first is that estrogen involves many bodily processes, including opening and closing the cervix to create the fertile window.
You may have noticed that you get a bit of a sticky discharge in your knickers around the time you are ovulating. This is the estrogen-softened plug that had been protecting your uterus. With that fallen away, you now become fertile.
The egg is released down the tube, down into the uterus. There is discards its “shell,” the corpus luteum. Discarded, the corpus luteum deteriorates and begins to secrete progesterone. It is this that creates the progesterone-rich environment that makes a pregnancy possible.
A key factor in infertility for many women is their irregular cycle means their luteal phase is too short. The fertile window is too small for sex and fertilization to marry up.
Thus, after making sure you have enough sex, one of the first steps is to work on getting your cycle to as close to 29 days as possible.
Essential Oils To Support Healthy Cycle Length
If cycles are stubborn, doing vaginal steam with some sweet basil leaves (as opposed to the essential oil) in boiling water can be helpful. (Be careful not to scald.)
Essential Oils for Hormonal Balance
Essential Oils for Fertility in Men
Aphrodisiac Essential Oils
Essential Oils for Stress During Treatments
Essential Oils for Anxiety
Essential Oils for Sadness Depression
Bergamot, Yuzu, Neroli, Rose.
Essential Oils To Aid Sleep
Using essential oils for fertility is a complex issue. Use your diary to track where you are, and see essential oils as a way to support you on the journey. They make great pick-you-ups or support when sex has lost its appeal. They are superb ways to manage anxiety and to help you feel more positive. We wish you luck, and please do post your comments about how you use essential oils for fertility.