Evening Primrose Oil (EPO) is a herbal supplement which can improve the quality of your fertile cervical mucus. Better cervical mucus makes the journey to the egg easier for sperm cells. It can also help sperm stay alive inside you for a longer period of time. This enables more live sperm cells to be present at the time of ovulation, increasing your chances to conceive.
What is evening primrose oil?
Evening Primrose Oil is the oil extracted from the seeds of a North American wildflower called – you guessed it – evening primrose (which is in fact not a primrose at all, but part of the willow family).
It has been used medicinally for centuries to treat a variety of conditions, including skin problems, stomachache and gynecological problems. Native Americans ate evening primrose flowers to relieve hemorrhoids and sore throats. European explorers brought it to England, where it was called the “King’s cure-all” because of its many healing properties.
How does Evening Primrose Oil improve fertility?
One of the most important substances in Evening Primrose Oil is a fatty acid called GLA (Gamma Linolenic Acid), which the human body converts into prostaglandins. These hormone-like chemicals are needed for many physiological processes, and they play an important role in several stages of ovulation, conception and implantation of the embryo.
First and foremost, prostaglandins from Evening Primrose Oil can improve fertility by enhancing the production of fertile cervical mucus, or “egg white” cervical mucus.
Fertile cervical mucus is secreted during the woman’s fertile period, the last few days before ovulation. Sperm cells must swim through this mucus in order to reach the uterus and fallopian tubes, where they can fertilize the egg cell. The quality and quantity of your fertile cervical mucus is therefore important factors in your ability to conceive.
If your cervical fluid isn’t abundant or fluid enough, it can make the sperm cells’ journey to reach the egg more difficult.
If drinking a lot of water doesn’t improve the quantity and quality of your fertile cervical mucus, you may want to try Evening Primrose Oil to enhance the production.
When and how to take Evening Primrose Oil
Evening Primrose Oil is frequently used in the second half of the menstrual cycle, in order to relieve the symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome.
When you are trying to conceive, however, you should only take Evening Primrose Oil from menstruation to ovulation, because the increase in prostaglandins can cause uterine contractions (in fact, prostaglandins are often used to induce labor). Such contractions might disturb the implantation of a fertilized egg in your uterus.
If you want to make sure you get sufficient fatty acids throughout your cycle, you can replace Evening Primrose Oil with flax seed oil after ovulation.
The recommended daily quantity of Evening Primrose Oil for women trying to conceive is between 1500 mg and 3000 mg, taken in two or three daily doses.
Does Evening Primrose Oil have any side effects?
Evening Primrose Oil has practically no known side effects, but remember that it should only be taken before ovulation when you are trying to conceive.
Some women have reported slight nausea or mild skin rashes, but most users experience increased well-being.
However, you should not take Evening Primrose Oil if you are using antipsychotic medication, medicines that may increase bleeding, or if you have experienced seizures.
As always, do consult your physician before you start taking a herbal supplement to improve fertility.