Is evening primrose oil beneficial for female fertility?

By (gynecologist) and (embryologist).
Last Update: 04/29/2022

Evening primrose oil (also known as evening primrose oil) is obtained from the seeds of Oenothera biennis and is an oil rich in omega-6 essential fatty acids. Currently, this oil has gained great popularity for increasing female fertility.

This oil has been used for the treatment of atopic dermatitis, eczema and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as to improve breast pain (mastalgia), premenstrual syndrome and menopausal symptoms (among other potential uses).

However, there is little scientific evidence to support or disprove all these beneficial effects of evening primrose oil.

What is evening primrose oil?

Oenothera biennis is a plant native to the Americas, although it is now widespread in various parts of the world. Evening primrose oil is obtained from evening primrose seeds and is becoming increasingly popular because of the many benefits it is believed to have, such as improving a woman's fertility.

Evening primrose oil is rich in omega-6 fatty acids, including linoleic acid (70-74%) and gamma-linolenic acid (8-10%), to which its properties are attributed.

Benefits of evening primrose oil for fertility

Among the main benefits attributed to evening primrose oil in relation to female fertility are:

  • Regularization of the menstrual cycle. Evening primrose oil could be useful in cases of irregular periods and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) to improve the chances of pregnancy.
  • Increased cervical mucus. A greater amount of cervical mucus could facilitate the ascent of sperm from the cervix and their survival, thus increasing the chances of an encounter with the egg.

In addition, evening primrose oil is also known for its use to improve the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome as well as menopause.

However, the truth is that more scientific studies are needed to corroborate the efficacy of evening primrose oil for all these attributed benefits.

How to take evening primrose oil to improve fertility

Evening primrose oil can be purchased in capsules or pearls, which are usually recommended to be taken with meals.

The most popular way to take evening primrose oil to promote natural pregnancy is:

  • Begin administration on the first day of the menstrual cycle, i.e., the first day of the menstrual period.
  • Continue taking evening primrose oil until the day of ovulation (the release of the egg from the ovary). The day on which ovulation occurs should be estimated by the woman by subtracting 14 days from the usual length of her menstrual cycles (e.g., if cycles last 28 days, evening primrose oil will be taken until day 14).
  • Resume taking evening primrose oil at the beginning of the next menstrual cycle, as long as pregnancy has not been achieved.

The reason to stop taking evening primrose oil after ovulation is that it could cause uterine contractions that could be counterproductive for pregnancy.

What dose and for how long?

The recommended dose of evening primrose oil to improve fertility is usually 500-1500 mg/day. However, before starting to take evening primrose oil, it is necessary to consult a specialist. He will check that there is no contraindication and will tell the woman what dose of evening primrose oil to take and for how long.

In any case, evening primrose oil should not be taken for prolonged periods (usually no more than 6 months), as it may have long-term harmful effects that have not been studied. Likewise, the dose of evening primrose oil recommended by the specialist should never be exceeded.

Finally, regardless of whether the woman has taken evening primrose oil or not, it is important to remember that if a couple has been looking for pregnancy for a year (6 months if the woman is over 35 years old) and it does not come, it is advisable to go to a specialist for a fertility study.

Considering undergoing a fertility treatment? By getting your individual Fertility Report your will see different clinics especially selected for you out of the pool of clinics that meet our strict quality criteria. Moreover, it will offer you a comparison between the fees and conditions each clinic offers in order for you to make a well informed choice.

Side effects of evening primrose oil

Evening primrose oil is generally well tolerated and does not produce adverse effects. Despite this, some people may experience some mild side effects such as:

  • Stomach discomfort and nausea.
  • Headache.
  • Diarrhea

On the other hand, evening primrose oil should be avoided if taking antihypertensive or anticoagulant drugs (because of their possible interaction). Similarly, the use of evening primrose oil during pregnancy and lactation may be questioned, as the possible effects are not well known.

Therefore, before taking evening primrose oil, it is always necessary to consult a specialist in case of any contraindication.

FAQs from users

What are the benefits of evening primrose oil?

By Sergio Rogel Cayetano M.D. (gynecologist).

Basically, evening primrose oil is an oil of vegetable origin obtained directly from this plant.

Evening primrose oil is rich in phytoestrogens, compounds similar to female hormones of vegetable origin, so it is used to improve symptoms of menopause, especially in mild cases.

In addition, it has been described that evening primrose oil can be useful for the treatment of premenstrual symptoms (feeling of swelling of the lower abdomen, headache, irritability ...)

Evening primrose oil has also been described as a long-term treatment that may be helpful in regulating the menstrual cycle.

As far as reproductive medicine is concerned, there is no evidence that this medicine improves a woman's state of fertility, except in the case of a patient who manages to regularise her previously anovulatory cycles with evening primrose oil.

What is the price of evening primrose oil?

By Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

The price of evening primrose oil can vary, depending on the brand, the number of capsules in the bottle and the amount of evening primrose oil per capsule.

In general, about 200 capsules of evening primrose oil usually cost around 10 euros.

Does evening primrose oil improve male fertility?

By Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

Evening primrose oil has been linked to a possible improvement in male fertility, as it may improve certain cases of erectile dysfunction through its effects on circulation.

However, as with female fertility, more studies are needed to provide robust scientific evidence to support the benefits attributed to evening primrose oil.

Is primrose oil fattening?

By Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

No. In principle, at the recommended doses, evening primrose oil could have a satiating effect. Thus, it could contribute to weight loss accompanied by a healthy diet and moderate physical exercise.

Suggested for you

We have mentioned that one of the most popular ways to take evening primrose oil is from day 1 of the cycle until ovulation. For more information about the menstrual cycle and its phases, please visit the following link: The Menstrual Cycle: What Happens in Each of Its Phases?

On the other hand, if you are interested in learning about an antioxidant food supplement to improve seminal quality, we recommend reading this article: Androferti, an antioxidant food supplement for men.

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FAQs from users: 'What are the benefits of evening primrose oil?', 'What is the price of evening primrose oil?', 'Does evening primrose oil improve male fertility?' and 'Is primrose oil fattening?'.

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Authors and contributors

 Sergio Rogel Cayetano
Sergio Rogel Cayetano
Bachelor's Degree in Medicine from the Miguel Hernández University of Elche. Specialist in Obstetrics & Gynecology via M. I. R. at Hospital General de Alicante. He become an expert in Reproductive Medicine by working at different clinics of Alicante and Murcia, in Spain, until he joined the medical team of IVF Spain back in 2011. More information about Sergio Rogel Cayetano
License: 03-0309100
 Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Graduate in Health Biology from the University of Alcalá and specialized in Clinical Genetics from the same university. Master in Assisted Reproduction by the University of Valencia in collaboration with IVI clinics. More information about Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
License: 3435-CV

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