While research suggests there are health benefits, the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t monitor or regulate the purity or quality of essential oils. It’s important to talk with your healthcare provider before you begin using essential oils and be sure to research the quality of a brand’s products. Always do a patch test before trying a new essential oil.

Scents are powerful — they can trigger memories and have an impact on our body systems. Don’t believe us? Try sniffing a pine tree or smelling some fresh baked cookies and not smiling!

It may seem like a big leap to go from smiling at a familiar scent to having better overall wellness and preparing your body for conception, but aromatherapy with essential oils may be able to help with these things, too.

Essential oil precautions

Essential oils are highly concentrated liquids made from the leaves, stems, petals, and other parts of plants. They capture the “essence” of a plant (its scent or flavor).

Because essential oils are concentrated, they’re not meant to be ingested. It’s also important to be careful when applying essential oils to your skin, as they must be diluted in another oil (called a carrier oil) like coconut oil, jojoba oil, or olive oil before being applied. Once diluted, essential oils can be absorbed by the skin or inhaled as aromatherapy.

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Different essential oils are believed to offer a variety of specific health benefits that may also aid with fertility. These benefits can range from hormone regulation to increased relaxation, anxiety reduction, mood stabilization, and even better sleep! Let’s take a look at which ones might be best for fertility.

If you feel your hormones might need some harmonizing before you conceive, clary sage oil has been linked to estrogen balancing, according to a 2017 study. Estrogen is a necessary hormone for conception.

However, it may not be appropriate to use this essential oil once you are pregnant. Anecdotal — not researched — reports claim it may lead to uterine contractions. Studies are needed to prove this, so its best to avoid until we know more.

There are several ways to use clary sage essential oil, including diluting it in a carrier oil and massaging it into the skin.

Citrus essential oils (orange, lemon, and grapefruit) may help to increase energy and improve mood. For example, one 2015 study found that orange essential oil helped lessen anxiety in women in labor. While you may not be there — yet — anxiety may negatively impact fertility, so using orange essential oil as part of an aromatherapy session may prove helpful.

As an added bonus, some citrus essential oils (like lemon in particular) can help to settle nauseous stomachs, according to a 2014 study, which can be very useful when you do become pregnant.

One of the most common ways to use citrus essential oils is dispersing them into the air by using a room diffuser.

Sandalwood essential oil can also be beneficial to men and women when it comes to fertility. It’s been widely suggested — though without much researched support — that sandalwood can boost testosterone in men, which may result in a higher libido. Sandalwood may also be an aphrodisiac for women.

Sandalwood can be dispersed into the air with a diffuser, but creams and massage oils also offer the option to rub it on the skin (diluted, of course) if preferred.

Like clary sage, geranium is another essential oil that may be helpful with estrogen production. At least one study has suggested geranium essential oil is beneficial at stimulating salivary estrogen. It has also been found to reduce anxiety and ease depressive moods, both of which may hinder fertility.

Typically geranium essential oil is applied to the skin with a cream or used in a room diffuser.

Believed to have aphrodisiac qualities, ylang ylang essential oil can also help to ease some of the symptoms associated with menstrual cramps while you wait to conceive.

A small 2014 study suggests ylang ylang essential oil can help to induce euphoric feelings that lead to increased self-esteem and better mental health — something that can be very beneficial on the harder days of your fertility journey.

Diffusing ylang ylang can fill the room with its positive, love-inducing scent. To aid with menstrual pains, ylang ylang should be applied in a cream or massage oil form to the abdominal area.

Peppermint essential oil is energizing and mood lifting. Anecdotally (and through limited research), it’s believed to help ease headaches and migraine attacks, which have been linked to endometriosis — a common cause of infertility. This oil is also safe for pregnancy and can be very helpful, according to this 2018 study, once you start experiencing morning sickness.

Peppermint essential oil can be diffused in a diffuser, included in a massage oil, or added to lotions.

If you’re feeling stressed around conceiving, lavender essential oil may help you to relax and lower the cortisol levels in your body, says this 2016 study. (As an added bonus, it may help you to get some sleep, so you can feel more rested and focused to handle the other parts of your life.)

Lavender can be incorporated into massage oils, sprayed onto pillowcases, used in a diffuser, or even just quickly whiffed from the bottle for some immediate relaxation.

Keep in mind that just because something is made naturally doesn’t mean that it’s automatically safe. It’s possible that you may experience rashes, headaches, and other allergic reactions when using essential oils.

It’s also important to consider the health of others around you who might come in contact with any diffused essential oils. (Particularly sensitive populations include pregnant women, children, and pets.)

It’s important to check with a medical professional about your use of essential oils and any negative side effects experienced after using essential oils.

Just as some essential oils may be beneficial for fertility, others may carry a higher risk due to potential:

  • toxicity
  • lack of research
  • uterine contractions
  • traditional/folk use in very large quantities to induce home abortions

Some essential oils you may wish to avoid while hoping to conceive include:

  • ginger (in concentrated medicinal amounts it may impact menstruation)
  • rosemary
  • basil
  • aniseed
  • birch
  • hyssop
  • camphor
  • rose
  • mugwort
  • parsley (high doses may impact uterine muscles)
  • juniper berry
  • jasmine
  • nutmeg
  • sage
  • pennyroyal
  • tansy
  • tarragon
  • thuja
  • wintergreen
  • wormwood

There’s still much more research to be done around essential oils and fertility. While we wait for that research to happen, you can indulge in the effects of some essential oils that may help put you in the best possible state to conceive.

Whether you want to try to balance your estrogen, raise your libido, relax, or just get some better sleep, the solution might just be a sniff away.

If you’re actively trying to conceive and have been unsuccessful for 6 months or more, speak with your doctor. They can suggest tests and procedures to help you find answers about why you’re not conceiving. Remember, while potentially a great tool for health and wellness, essential oils are most effective when combined with other healthy lifestyle habits.