Evening primrose oil, or EPO, has long been connected with pregnancy, both as an aid in helping women become pregnant and as a way to induce labor and make childbirth more comfortable. Evening primrose oil is thought to be one of the oldest medicinal plants related to pregnancy and childbirth, and many natural health practitioners swear by it and tout its effectiveness.
Evening promise oil, known in natural health circles as EPO, is actually derived from a wildflower common to North America, not from the English Primrose. The healthful effects of evening primrose oil are thought to come in part from the high vitamin E content of the plant, as well as its rich concentration of an essential fatty acid known as gamma linolenic acid, or GLA.
The original Native American inhabitants of North America had long known of the power of evening primrose oil, and they used it extensively in their tribal medicine, often using EPO to treat feminine disorders and aid in pregnancy. It was, however, the Europeans that first made evening primrose oil a popular medicine among the non-Native American inhabitants of the continent.
Europeans and others found that evening primrose oil was quite helpful for relieving the pain of menstrual cramps, especially tenderness of the breasts. In addition to these qualities, evening primrose oil is thought to aid in fertility by improving the quality of the mucus lining the cervix.
The essential fatty acid that is contained in evening primrose oil, gamma linolenic acid, is converted by the female body into a substance known as prostaglandin. This substance is similar to a hormone, and it has a similar effect. Prostaglandin is known to have anti-inflammatory properties, and an increase in gamma linolenic acid can boost production of this hormone-like substance and help with female fertility and other issues. The anti-inflammatory properties triggered by the extra gamma linolenic acid can also help relieve the pain associated with menstrual cramps naturally, without the use of medications with potentially harmful side effects.
But women who are actively trying to conceive may be more interested in the link between evening primrose oil and pregnancy. Evening primrose oil is thought to work by improving the quality of the mucus lining the cervix. This mucus lining obviously plays a vital role in pregnancy by preparing the way for the fetus, and the impact of the vitamin E and gamma linolenic oil in evening primrose oil seems to play a positive role in this process.
Evening primrose oil is thought to help women produce more cervical mucus, which in turn aids the sperm on its journey toward the waiting egg. The type of cervical mucus evening primrose oil helps to produce has been shown to increase the survival rate of sperm, and therefore increase the odds of a successful pregnancy.
Many fertility experts recommend that women who are actively trying to get pregnant take evening primrose oil from the first day of their menstrual period through ovulation. From ovulation until the onset of the next period, that evening primrose oil can be replaced with flaxseed oil. Once those women become pregnant, they can continue taking flaxseed oil until the 34th week of pregnancy, then switch back to evening primrose oil to aid in delivery. The extra gamma linolenic acid in the evening primrose oil can prepare the cervix for delivery and make childbirth more comfortable for mother and baby alike. The evening primrose oil should be taken orally, as this gives it time to dissipate throughout the body and be absorbed gradually.
After the 36th week of pregnancy the evening primrose oil capsule can be inserted vaginally and gently massaged into the skin to ease discomfort and help prepare for delivery of the baby. Evening primrose oil can also be rubbed on to the cervix each evening during the last few weeks of pregnancy as a way to prepare the cervix for delivery.
Midwives have long used evening primrose oil to aid delivery and make the process more comfortable. Women who long for a more natural pregnancy and childbirth are also looking to evening primrose oil and other natural remedies, rather than relying on harsh drugs and chemicals. From conception to birth, evening primrose oil can be a big help. Native Americans knew about the power of this natural remedy for centuries, and modern women are beginning to learn about it as well.