Infertility, as anybody who has struggled to conceive knows, can be a difficult road with numerous — and sometimes overwhelming — therapy options. However, one element that may increase your odds of having a baby is relatively straightforward and noninvasive: your diet. Many micronutrients obtained through food or supplements have been demonstrated to play an important impact in fertility.
So, if you're looking for a natural and effective solution to boost your fertility, Lion's mane mushrooms are the way to go. Known mainly for their cognitive benefits, these mushrooms also appear to improve reproductive health.
This post will examine Lion's mane fertility benefits and how you can use the medicinal mushroom to enhance your possibility of conception.
Fertility is the natural ability to bear children but not something everyone is blessed with. Approximately 11% of couples(1) will have infertility—the inability to conceive naturally after one year of unprotected sexual intercourse. But fertility is not just a female health concern. Infertility can affect people of both genders, and everyone can take action to increase their fertility.
Some of the factors that may affect your fertility are under your control. Smoking, for example, decreases fertility in both men and women; thus, stopping is advised. Other causes of decreased fertility, such as age-related reproductive drop, are beyond your control.
Female fertility peaks in the early to mid-20s and begins to fall rapidly beyond 35. Male fertility diminishes with age as well, albeit not as severely. While some men are still fertile after the age of 50, women with uteruses are infertile after menopause.
Several chronic diseases, as well as their therapies, can cause reproductive issues in persons of any gender. Even though a condition has nothing to do with the reproductive system, it can impact fertility.
Hormonal imbalances may cause infertility or impair fertility. Female infertility can be caused by conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome, endometriosis, and premature ovarian failure (also known as primary ovarian insufficiency). Low testosterone levels can cause male infertility.
Other factors affecting fertility include reproductive tract infection, medicines, and obesity. One in every four couples never learns why they are unable to conceive.
Lion's Mane Overview
Lion's mane mushrooms or Hericium erinaceus are adaptogenic mushrooms used in traditional Chinese medicine for generations. Because of its extensive availability and many benefits, it remains one of the most popular and healthiest adaptogenic mushrooms.
This fungus prefers temperate parts of northern Asia, Europe, and North America and feeds on dead tree waste. Aside from their shaggy, mane-like appearance, these mushrooms are ferocious when it comes to boosting human health. Lion's mane mushrooms are effective against a variety of health conditions.
These puffy miracles boost immune systems. They act as diplomatic mediators in the setting of autoimmune disorders, establishing a quiet ceasefire between the immune response and the body's cells.
In Lion's mane, Alzheimer's disease and mild cognitive impairment meet a worthy enemy. This mushroom contains bioactive chemicals that promote cognitive function and help to prevent dementia-related memory loss.
Do you have high blood pressure? This mushroom aids in blood pressure regulation, so protecting your heart and blood vessels.
These mushrooms improve focus and prevent memory loss by boosting nerve growth factors.
Their job in brain health can be described as that of a 24-hour security guard, always on the lookout for threats and potential breaches. Lion's mane may improve immune function and resilience in cancer patients while aiding in cancer cell elimination.
But what about Lion's mane mushroom fertility benefits? More on this next!
The Link Between Lion's Mane And Fertility
While there hasn't been much direct research on the effects of Lion's mane on fertility, there are indications that its favorable effects on hormone production may also extend to fertility. These findings are encouraging and certainly warrant additional investigation, particularly in humans.
Lion's mane mushrooms can regulate sex hormone production by stimulating nerve cell proliferation, notably in the hypothalamus. Hormone balance is critical for reproductive health and improving chances of conception.
Lion's mane mushroom contains compounds that stimulate the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factors (BDNF) and nerve growth factors (NGF). BDNFs and NGFs, in turn, regulate the synthesis of hypothalamic hormones (growth hormone, vasopressin, adrenocorticotropic hormones, and sex hormones).
Sex hormones are "produced by the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis," according to one study(3). The effects of lion's mane on hypothalamic hormone production may extend to testosterone and estrogen production in men and women.
Lion's Mane and Female Fertility
Human studies on the beneficial effects of Lion's mane mushrooms on women's health and fertility have been limited. Nonetheless, available data indicate a close relationship between NGF and estrogen production:
The reciprocal and differential regulation(4) of NGF and estrogen receptor gene expression by their ligands suggests that estrogen and neurotrophins may influence each other's actions by regulating receptor/ligand availability or by reciprocal regulation at the gene transcription or signal transduction levels.
Because of the previously described benefits of lion's mane for NGF production, we can speculate that it also benefits estrogen production and fertility. More human study is needed to understand these pathways completely.
Lion’s mane mushroom may also help regulate menstrual cycles by balancing estrogen levels. This can also potentially enhance the quality and quantity of eggs.
Lion's Mane and Male Fertility
There is no research on Lion’s mane male fertility, but existing evidence implies that NGF production is linked to testosterone production and spermatogenesis, at least in animals.
According to a 2015 animal study(5), the NGF system is involved in rabbits' testicular development and spermatogenesis. This study similarly links NGF production to ovulation in female rabbits, concluding that NGF may act as a potential ovulation-inducing factor.
Lion's mane mushroom has been shown to increase testosterone levels. This may aid in improving sperm health, such as sperm count, motility, and morphology.
Oxidative stress(6) is a critical factor in sperm malfunction and maybe a new cause of male infertility. It deleteriously impacts sperm cells, producing cellular damage and changes in their proteins, nucleic acids, and lipid content.
Animal studies have discovered that Lion's mane(7) extracts contain potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant substances that may help lower rodents' inflammation and oxidative stress markers. This could be especially beneficial in treating disorders caused by oxidative stress.
Other Benefits And Considerations
Of course, Lion's mane mushrooms have many more benefits that can improve fertility. Lion’s mane is an adaptogen, but what does this mean?
Adaptogens are herbs with the unique capacity to "adapt" their function to the organism's needs. Adaptogenic herbs boost the body's functions and overall health by stimulating the body's hormonal response.
Stress and worry impair a woman's ability to conceive. According to research, women with a history of depression are twice as likely to have infertility. Anxiety might also lengthen the time it takes to become pregnant.
According to certain studies, males with higher stress and anxiety levels have lower sperm concentration and numbers. Guys with the highest anxiety levels had less motility on average than less stressed guys.
Lion’s mane mushroom balances the body’s response to stress. Scientific research has even backed up these claims, as the mushroom has noted anti-anxiety benefits(8).
Apart from supplements, proper nutrition and a healthy lifestyle also contribute to maintaining fertility. Always seek professional advice before starting any fertility supplements.
How To Incorporate Lion's Mane Into Your Routine
Lion's mane can be eaten raw, whipped up into a gourmet meal, or steeped in tea. It is also available as a supplement in capsules, gummies, tablets, tinctures, and powders. The mushroom powder can be mixed into hot water, coffee, tea, smoothies, and other beverages. It's also great for seasoning soups, stews, and gravies.
The usual recommended daily dose is 2 grams. Some researchers recommend 3 to 5 grams per day. You should talk to your doctor about the best dosage for you.
FAQs About Lion's Mane Fertility
Who Should Avoid Lion’s Mane?
People with mushroom allergies should avoid Lion’s mane. Likewise, those on blood thinner should, too, as the mushroom may interfere with blood clotting.
Can Lions Mane Boost Testosterone?
Lion’s mane mushroom can boost testosterone. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the mushroom enhances libido.
Can You Take Lion's Mane While Pregnant?
Anecdotal evidence and centuries of use imply that taking Lion's mane while pregnant is safe; yet, due to a lack of scientific research, some pregnant women may choose not to consume Lion's mane or other medicinal mushrooms during pregnancy. Lion's mane mushrooms appear to lower blood sugar levels, which may be beneficial for people with gestational diabetes.
Due to male and female Lion's mane fertility benefits, the shaggy mushroom is preferred by many as a natural wellness supplement. It also combats oxidative stress and promotes nerve growth in the brain region responsible for hormone production. Try the seafood like Lion’s mane mushroom and experience what it can do for yourself.
- How common is infertility?, (1)https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/infertility/conditioninfo/common
- Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial, (2)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18844328/
- Sex differences in the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis’ response to stress: an important role for gonadal hormones, (3)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6235871/
- The estrogen/neurotrophin connection during neural development: is co-localization of estrogen receptors with the neurotrophins and their receptors biologically relevant?, (4)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8840085/
- Gene Expression and Localization of NGF and Its Cognate Receptors NTRK1 and NGFR in the Sex Organs of Male Rabbits, (5)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26392300/
- The Impact of Oxidative Stress in Male Infertility, (6)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8766739/
- Composition and antioxidant activity of water-soluble oligosaccharides from Hericium erinaceus, (7)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25529054/
- Hericium erinaceus Extract Reduces Anxiety and Depressive Behaviors by Promoting Hippocampal Neurogenesis in the Adult Mouse Brain, (8)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29091526/