Alternative Healthcare

PCOS: Improving Ovulation with Black Cohosh

family-of-four Starting or growing your family is often exhilarating and filled with hope.  But, for many women, it can also be riddled with anxiety, stress, frustration, depression and more if getting pregnant is difficult.  Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS, affects between 1 in 10 – 1 in 20 women.  Mayo Clinic offers a brief explanation of what PCOS is and how it impacts the female body, “Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine system disorder among women of reproductive age. Women with PCOS may have enlarged ovaries that contain small collections of fluid — called follicles — located in each ovary as seen during an ultrasound exam. Infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods, excess hair growth, acne, and obesity can all occur in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. In adolescents, infrequent or absent menstruation may raise suspicion for the condition.” Because of the impact that PCOS has on ovaries and the menstrual cycle, ovulation may be infrequent, which makes getting pregnant very challenging.  There are a variety of ways that women with PCOS can adapt their diet and lifestyle to help improve their health and diminish the effects of PCOS.  Sometimes, through simply changing diet and increasing physical activity, women can restore their ovulation cycle and improve their chances of getting pregnant.  Some women still may need other help in the form of supplements or prescription medications and recent studies have shown that Black Cohosh is a viable natural treatment option to help induce ovulation.

Black Cohosh (C. racimosa) is an herb that has been used for centuries.  It was first used by Native Americans and has since been widely used to treat a variety of women’s health issues.  Many women with PCOS see their physician in the hopes that they can receive help regulating their menstrual cycle and ovulation so that they can become pregnant.  These women are often first prescribed Clomid (clomiphene citrate) to induce ovulation.  Studies have recently shown that Black Cohosh may be a viable alternative to Clomid for women with PCOS who are seeking to induce ovulation.  While more studies are needed to explore more in depth the link between Black Cohosh and ovulation, this study reported in the European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology demonstrated a very promising connection between the two as a viable alternative to Clomid, “Treatment of women with PCOS with C. racimosa extract led to an earlier and higher pregnancy rate compared with CC treatment, but this difference was not significant.  This difference may be attributed to the sample size, and it is possible that a significant difference could be obtained in a larger study.  A higher pregnancy rate was also evident in a study that used C. racimosa extract as adjuvant therapy with CC in patients with unexplained infertility.”  While they acknowledge that more studies are needed, the link between Black Cohosh and improved ovulation for those with PCOS cannot be ignored.  Managing PCOS symptoms can be quite challenging and complex as each individual needs very specific and unique attention because symptoms can range so significantly.  It is important to consult your physician to discuss all potential options for improving your health and managing your PCOS symptoms.  If you are trying to get pregnant and have PCOS, talk to your doctor about all treatment options and consider the use of Black Cohosh as an alternative to other prescription medication.

November 6, 2015
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