Seed Cycling and Pregnancy Before, During and After.

Seed cycling is a gentle way to re-establish normal hormonal rhythms for women, but many people have questions about what to do around seed cycling and pregnancy.  If you’re unfamiliar with the idea of seed cycling you can read about the basics here and I’ll add a visual how-to before we get started. Here are some thoughts.

Seed Cycling for hormone balance adds seeds into your diet following the rhythm of your body or the moon. Seed cycling and pregnancy are a natural fit.

Seed Cycling for hormone balance adds seeds into your diet following the rhythm of your body or the moon. Seed cycling and pregnancy are a natural fit.

Seed Cycling and Pre-Pregnancy Fertility Boost

Naturally, anything that helps to normalize your cycle will ultimately boost fertility so seed cycling and pregnancy go hand-in-hand.  In preparing for pregnancy your body is trying to create a soft landing space for a fertilized egg, a cushy spot to settle down and take nourishment. That cushy spot is created via the hormones – estrogen to thicken the uterine lining (in the first half of the cycle) and progesterone to ripen that lining and make it ultimately inhabitable for a fertile egg.  Both halves of the woman’s cycle need to be strong for this to occur and seed cycling helps to encourage that balance.  Days 1 (the first day of your period) through day 14 (when you ovulate) are called the follicular phase. They are building uterine lining and also ripening a strong egg. The flax and pumpkin seeds that you take during those days help to bring healthy estrogen levels while blocking conversion to unhelpful androgenic hormones like DHT.

Day 14 and the window around that time (24-48 hours) is your fertile time – the time when you are most likely to conceive.  Strong ovulations need a healthy estrogen spike nurtured by the hormone balance achieved in Days 1-14.

After ovulation through the rest of your cycle is called the luteal phase and is dominated by the hormone progesterone, which is encouraged by the combination of sunflower and sesame seeds. Progesterone is released by the pocket on the ovary out of which that month’s fertile egg came, called the corpus luteum. If the egg is successfully fertilized (meaning you get pregnant) then progesterone levels must stay elevated to help the egg to implant into the uterus and to prevent your body from flushing out the uterine lining (to prevent your next period).

Encouraging good progesterone levels is, in fact, one of the most important factors in keeping viable early pregnancies, especially in older women who are trying to get pregnant or women who have unbalanced hormone pictures that are shifted towards estrogen (like PCOS, endometriosis, and many cases of multiple pregnancy loss). Happily in the implanting days, women who are seed cycling are already encouraging progesterone with the sunflower seed and sesame combination.  But what to do when you find out you are pregnant?  That depends very much on you.

Seed Cycling and Pregnancy

Once women become pregnant seeds in your diet can still be highly supportive, but it helps to have some idea of your hormone balance beforehand, and the “cycle” of menstruating is no longer happening.  In fact, hormonally pregnancy becomes almost a hyper-extension of the luteal phase.

Progesterone in Luteal phase:  1 – 28 ng/ml. Average is 10-15
Progesterone in First Trimester: 9 – 47 ng/ml
Progesterone in Second Trimester: 17 – 146 ng/ml
Progesterone in Third Trimester: 49 – 300

As you can see, progesterone levels are on the rise throughout the entire pregnancy and logically to support that some women take the theory that they should continue the luteal phase seeds – sesame and sunflower.  Others feel that all the seeds provide support and so choose to do steady amounts of all seeds on a consistent basis.

*One good tip to remember* If you’re trying to get pregnant it’s important to continue the luteal-phase seeds (sesame/sunflower) until you actually have a period, just in case you are pregnant that month. This gives the egg the best chance at implantation.

Women who have a history of estrogen dominance,  repeated miscarriages, or are “advanced maternal age”:

For these women, progesterone support can help to keep the pregnancy viable and often prescription progesterone is given.  Seeds can help as well. Women in this category can use all sunflower/sesame through the pregnancy or a 2:1 ratio of sunflower and sesame: flax and pumpkin.  These seeds are not a substitute for prescription progesterone, but they can be safely used in combination with prescription progesterone. I personally feel that all the seeds are supportive and so taking all of them each day during pregnancy gives the biggest nutritional boost. In this case, a good mix would be:

2 tbsp sunflower seeds
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp flax seeds
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds

Young women with typically balanced hormones and normal pregnancy history:

Although pregnancy is still a higher progesterone time, women who have healthy balanced hormones should have no problem maintaining the progesterone levels needed. In these cases, equal amounts of all seeds can be used or the ratios can be weighted towards sunflower/sesame if that is your choice. So:

1 – 2 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 – 2 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp flax seeds
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds

This can be continued through the entire pregnancy as well as the early months of nursing (up to about 6 months post-partum). This seems to help many women soften the post-partum emotional changes that can occur because of the huge hormone nose-dive.

Seed Cycling for Post-Pregnancy Restoration of Cycle

After delivery, some women have a hard time with the sharp drop of progesterone that happens along with the normalization of estrogen levels. Continuing the steady doses of seeds suggested in the pregnancy section can help to smooth out some of the rough edges, but there will come a time when your body moves more towards re-establishing its normal rhythm. Some women have a sense of this, whether it’s from changing the nursing habits of their baby to hormonal symptoms like skin changes and some women really don’t feel it happening until they get their first cycle.  If you start to feel changes then I typically suggest re-starting seed cycling then according to the lunar phase. If you don’t particularly feel anything then around 6-9 months or when your baby really starts to be interested in solid foods you can restart (also according to lunar phase).  If your body surprises you with your first period out of the blue, then start seed cycling using day 1 of that cycle as your starting place.

In every phase of pre-, during, and post- pregnancy, make sure that your maternity care team and doctors are aware of your seed cycling routine and that they don’t have any concerns for your particular pregnancy. Seed cycling during pregnancy is generally easy and supportive, but may not be right for you so always check with your doctor.

40 thoughts on “Seed Cycling and Pregnancy Before, During and After.

    1. amyneuzil Post author

      Hi Joan,
      Great question! It’s not as commonly used in men, but I like to give it to the male partner (and the female partner as well) if couples come to me for fertility help. The pumpkin seeds do boost testosterone and it’s always helpful to reduce excess estrogens in men. It is certainly safe, but as to how much benefit men get for it – I honestly don’t have a way to measure that. Some of those couples did conceive, but whether it was from the work I was doing with the women, or the work on the men, or things outside of the seed cycling is impossible to say. Thanks for being here!

  1. Sarah Dickens

    Thank you for this information.
    I am 8 months post partum and would like to restore a normal cycle, so that we can try to have a second baby.
    I have no cycle at the moment so I’m hoping to encourage that using seed cycling.
    Please could you explain what you mean by “according to the lunar phase”?

    1. amyneuzil Post author

      Hi Sarah,
      I’m seeing this late so I’m guessing you’re well back into your cycle by now, but if not, then adding in seed cycling when you don’t currently have a cycle is reasonably simple. Just start Day 1 (which is normally the first day of bleeding) on the day of the new moon. Theoretically this is when we’re most likely to have our period, although in modern society I think that is less the case than it once was. That way we ovulate on the full moon and switch over to the luteal phase seeds. Does that make sense?

    1. amyneuzil Post author

      Hi Jennifer,
      I”d talk with your doctor about it. Many of the seeds help balance estrogens, which is theoretically helpful for ovarian cysts, but your doctor will know more. Thanks for being here!

    1. amyneuzil Post author

      Hi Jennifer,
      I’d talk with your doctor about this. Seed cycling in theory is helpful for ovarian cysts because it can help to balance estrogens that are too high and smooth things out, but your doctor will know more about your particular ovarian cyst and whether or not this is the right step for you. I hope this helps!

  2. Kristen Lee

    Hello! I ha e had 2 chemical pregnancies and one ectopic in the last 6 months and am now starting seed cycling. Once I get pregnant again do I continue the 2:1 taking all 4 seeds daily? Thanks!

    1. amyneuzil Post author

      Hi Kristen,
      That’s exactly right – after pregnancy it’s all four seeds daily, with an emphasis on the progesterone boosters!

  3. Stephanie

    Thank you for this well-presented information. What are your thoughts on the association in animal studies between phytoestrogens and infertility, as well as between phytoestrogens and subprime neonatal reproductive development? This is one of those areas where I get confused, as there seem to be two camps – one with a positive association and one with a negative association with fertility and birth outcomes.

    1. amyneuzil Post author

      Hi Stephanie,
      That is such a great question, and unfortunately one without clear answers. I think the answer is more complex than we’re trying to make it (isn’t that always the way!!). I think some of it is genetic or cultural – in that studies in populations in which phytoestrogens like those in soy are a part of the traditional and cultural diet (and in which there has been some cultural adaptation) seem to show positive associations with fertility and birth outcomes. Studies in populations that do not have such high historical use of those phytoestrogens or who have not been raised with them as part of their diet, seem to show negative. Sadly, even that is a bit black and white and represents more of a trend rather than a difinitive answer. Also, I’m assuming you’re talking about dietary phytoestrogens, like soy, rather than supplemental phytoestrogens, like those from black cohosh which actually have some really positive research. So honestly, it feels like a bit of an unsatisfying answer, but hopefully, it helped. If you have a specific phytoestrogen or scenario in mind then please let me know!

  4. Dr. Lisa Handley, PharmD

    Hi, Dr. Amy! I’m a fellow seed cycling practitioner, and I was wondering if there was a way we could connect. I couldn’t find any contact info on your website but am familiar with this blog post. May I book a 15-min appt with you or is there another way we can connect?

    Warm regards,
    Dr. Lisa Handley, PharmD

  5. Jody

    Thank you for this very helpful guide.
    I have been seed cycling for around six weeks now. Last cycle was very healthy, after a 25 day cycle which is normally a longer cycle for me which is good. I’ve elected to switch seeds after 14 days, even though I often ovulate around day 12. From what I’ve read, I think this will help normalise things.

    However, now I’ve scheduled my final embryo transfer for IVF. I’m early 40’s so I plan to do all four seeds and double the progesterone seeds during pregnancy. Now my question is how to work this. On day 21 I get an implant to stop everything down. Approximately 28 days later the 5 day embryo is put back. Should I start the sunflower/sesame mix 5 days before embryo replacement, at the time I start my progesterone and oestrogen? Because 5 days before is the equivalent of ovulation day, even though I won’t be ovulating that cycle. Or is this when I should start all four seeds? As from that day I’m going to be supplemented with oestrogen AND progesterone for IVF. Also I’m not really sure how to take the other seeds once I get the hormonal implant put in on day 21. I’m wondering if maybe I could just carry on the sunflower/sesame until day 28, when I’ll probably have a withdrawal bleed approximating a period anyway, and then switch to my day 1 seeds, switching 14 days later and continuing luteal phase seeds until I get my positive test. But then I’ll have been taking those seeds for 3 weeks at the time of my embryo replacement, and over four weeks by the time I have my pregnancy test, I think. Or do I count back from “ovulation day” 5 days before embryo transfer in two week lots to work out what seeds I should be taking when? Maybe I just need to write it down, or perhaps you can provide some insight here.

    1. amyneuzil Post author

      Hi Jody,
      Great question!! This is such a tricky time because there is so much outside hormone influence and that will ALWAYS be far stronger than the impact of the seeds. There isn’t any research on this, but it’s my personal opinion that to keep everything clean and neat in terms of hormone levels, it would be best to keep things stable. So either switch to your pregnancy plan on day 21 when you get the implant and just carry it through until after your test (and obviously beyond when the IVF is successful), or discontinue the seeds on day 21 when you get the implant and restart at the test. Talk with your fertility specialist about both options and get his or her opinion. The reason I suggest not cycling during that time is simply that the implant is designed to stop everything and the seed cycling would be pushing your body to maintain normal, so I think it’s’ best to keep a steady state (either all four seeds and double the progesterone seeds like you would in pregnancy or no seeds at all). Bear in mind that the influence of the implants and hormones that you’re taking for IVF will be much stronger than the influence of the seeds, but still. It’s best to give your body only one message at a time. 🙂 Great luck with the implant and your upcoming pregnancy!

  6. Melanie

    Is it okay to eat other types of nuts and seeds while seed cycling? Or will those throw off the balance of the recommendations? I ask because I eat lots of almonds as snacks.

    1. amyneuzil Post author

      Hi Melanie,
      Great question! Other nuts and seeds are just fine as long as it isn’t any of the four in the seed cycling. It’s really just these four that have strong hormonal activity. 🙂

  7. Laura

    Hello! I am breastfeeding my 14 month old, and I’m happy continuing with this. However, I have not yet started menstruating again following pregnancy, and would like to think about trying for another baby in the next few months. Is seed cycling safe for breastfeeding mothers, and could it help my periods return? I’m keen to breastfeed as long as possible, so reducing feeds to try to conceive would be a last resort. Thanks so much!

    1. amyneuzil Post author

      Hi Laura,
      Good question. First off, seed cycling is certainly safe in breastfeeding as the seeds are also highly nutritive and provide a lot of nutrition for your breastmilk as well. In terms of helping your periods restart, I don’t honestly know. I haven’t seen any data on that, but it makes sense that it might push your body in that direction and there is no harm in trying. A lot of women who breastfeed continuously will start to feel the hormone shift around 18 months postpartum, so it could be that things will open up by themselves naturally anyway. I have also had a number of clients conceive prior to ever getting their period back after a first baby (for most of them it was a surprise as they hadn’t been taking any preventative measures due to lack of menstruation. So, there’s that too.) Bottom line is that seed cycling might be helpful and certainly won’t be harmful. Great luck to you and keep us all posted if you get a chance!

  8. Maegan

    I’m a little confused about when to supplement with evening primrose oil. Everything I’ve read, if ttc, one should not take it during the 2nd half of their cycle because it may cause contractions, but the first half it is ok to take. Should I switch around, epo first half fish oil 2nd half? Why or why not?

    1. amyneuzil Post author

      Hi Maegan,
      Great question. If you are trying to conceive then I’d say leave out the EPO and take fish oil throughout the cycle. I have known a number of women who have chosen to take EPO even when trying to conceive and nobody has had any kind of issue, but the fact is that we really don’t have much research at all. Here’s a good summary article about EPO, but even in it’s use for cervical ripening there isn’t a lot of information. When in doubt, it’s better to be on the safe side. For anyone else reading this, if you’re seed cycling and learn that you’re pregnant, just drop the EPO at that point. Does that make sense? Good luck with the baby-making!

  9. Bee

    I’d love to ask about seed cycling for a woman who is perimenopausal, estrogen dominant, and not pregnant or wanting to be. Would it be best to only do the progesterone-boosting seeds and skip the second half of the cycle (pumpkin/flax combo)?

    1. amyneuzil Post author

      Hi Bee,
      Great question! For a perimenopausal woman, both halves of the cycle are equally important because in this part of life the cycle does tend to push towards estrogen so we need the flax/pumpkin combo to help reduce the estrogens and then the sesame/sunflower to boost progesterone. If there is a serious, known estrogen-dominance then it can be really helpful to add one additional tablespoon of flax seed and carry it through the whole month. So do the seed cycling as explained, but add 1 Tbsp additional flax seed every day, no matter what part of the cycle you’re in. Perimenopause for some women is just an estrogen mess, so that helps. I would encourage you to test your hormones with your doctor first though, because if you’re not estrogen dominant then the extra flax wouldn’t be right for you. I hope this helps!

  10. T

    I was seed cycling before I was pregnant for 2 months. Once I found out I was pregnant at 4 weeks I continued to seed cycle but increased as written in your post to:
    2 tbsp sunflower seeds
    2 tbsp sesame seeds
    1 tbsp flax seeds
    1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
    Now I’m almost 5 weeks and for three days I’ve had brown discharge. I’m worried because I’ve read online that handfuls of sesame seeds daily could cause a miscarriage. I’ve also been having my seeds with honey in Greek yogurt. Apparently honey with sesame seeds is even worse! I’ve seen the doctor and he thinks it’s just old blood but do you think I could be causing harm with the seeds?

    1. amyneuzil Post author

      Hi T,
      Congratulations on your pregnancy! That’s so exciting. I have never seen any reputable information linking sesame seeds to miscarriage or pregnancy problems, but if you’re worried about it, then stop it. Always listen to your body and err on the side of caution. I certainly don’t want to encourage you to continue taking something that is making you anxious! Blessings on your pregnancy and keep us posted!

  11. Jennifer

    Just wanted to clarify something: You wrote to take this ratio of seeds during pregnancy (for older women): 2 tbsp sunflower seeds
    2 tbsp sesame seeds
    1 tbsp flax seeds
    1 tbsp pumpkin seeds

    Is that the amount to take per day? (6 tbsp?) That seems like a lot of seeds!

    Thanks for your article!! This is such great info.

    1. amyneuzil Post author

      Hi Jennifer,
      It is kind of a lot of seeds. Ha! Good thing they’re good nutrition too. 🙂 This is the correct amount. Mostly we’re trying to keep the estrogens a bit lower and boost progesterone during pregnancy to make sure your body holds a strong pregnancy. If you know you have a different hormone balance or a particular hormone need then this might not be for you, but this is a good general starter. If it feels like just too much to take every day then you can cut the dose of everything by half. The main reason I encourage such a high dose is just because all of these seeds have so many nutritive and beneficial properties that it really can’t hurt – they are high in good oils and fats, high in fiber and provide a number of essential nutrients like zinc (pumpkin seeds), magnesium (sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, flax), B-6 (sunflower, sesame), iron (sunflower, pumpkin), selenium (sesame), calcium (sesame, flax). So really it’s a win-win.Now that I’m writing this I feel like I should do a whole post on the nutritional value of these seeds. I hope this helps!

  12. T

    I am in the early stages of pregnancy (4.5 weeks) and have been seed cycling for about 3 months. I was told I have PCOS but have had regular periods for at least 6 months. This month was our 3rd try and got the positive. I just want to know what you suggest by way of seed cycling. Do I continue? Thanks.

    1. amyneuzil Post author

      Hi T,
      Congratulations! That’s awesome. I actually ended up writing a whole blog post about seed cycling in pregnancy because so many people were asking. In good news, the seeds are highly nutritive and entirely safe in pregnancy. As with everything else – trust your intuition. If your body doesn’t really like or feel well with the seeds right now, then stop them. If you find that you’re craving them, then you can add more. Congratulations again!

  13. Rebekah

    My cycle is off kilter since my first child, and I am hoping to get it back on track with some seed cycling (and a fertility diet) so that we can conceive again.

    With an irregular cycle, it’s hard to know when to switch the type of seeds. My past 4 cycles have looked like this: Period starts on day 1, ovulation between days 33-35 (known through temperature tracking, ovulation test, and cervical mucus), period starts just 5-9 days after ovulation.

    So, obviously, something is off with the super short luteal phase. Should I wait until ovulation to switch seeds? It wouldn’t help to ovulation sooner if I switched sooner, right?

    1. amyneuzil Post author

      Hi Rebekah,
      Great question! Best is to switch seeds when you’re supposed to ovulate – day 14 – 15. Even though your cycle is really long, we really want to pump up that luteal phase, so it’s important to have lots of the progestrogen boosters. Obviously it won’t track to your ovulation right away, but hopefully after a few months you’ll see your cycle becoming shorter and more regular and the ovulation moving closer to where it’s supposed to be. Good luck and keep me posted!

  14. Alicia

    Trying to conceive-

    I think I might have low estrogen at the beginning of my cycle (I have a too thin uterine lining). Do you think taking the flax is still a good idea?

    I’m concerned about taking evening primrose oil as 1) it gives me headaches and 2) it can cause uterine contractions. Can I substitute another GLA source such as hemp or spirulina?

    I had been taking fish oil every day; should I stop it during the 2nd half of my cycle?


    1. amyneuzil Post author

      Hi Alicia,
      I do think the flax is still a good idea – it helps to balance the estrogens and prevents some of the worse forms from building up, but shouldnt’ decrease good levels. If the EPO gives you headaches then I’d suggest trying Borage oil. Hemp oil is an estrogen promotor for some women and so wouldn’t be a good idea for that part of your cycle. I would try stopping the fish oil for part of your cycle. It’s nice to complement the seeds with the oils – especially at first while we’re trying to get things balanced. Keep me posted, I’ll be eager to hear how it goes for you! Also let me know if you have any trouble wtih the borage oil.

      1. Alicia

        Thanks. I’m reading up on borage seed oil and am finding people don’t recommend it during pregnancy as it could cause fetal defects. I hesitate to take something while trying to get pregnant that could be dangerous when pregnant, so I’m not sure what to use instead of fish oil for the 2nd half of my cycle. Any thoughts?

        1. amyneuzil Post author

          Fair point! So – I’d say no to the hemp just because hemp itself is estrogenic, but if you can find a spirulina source GLA then let’s try that one. I have less experience with it, but GLA should be GLA. Keep me posted!

  15. Jill

    Thank you. This post is very interesting and detailed. I’m have irregular cycles and am trying to conceive with no luck so am planning on seed cycling after reading your post.

    If I fall pregnant during the luteal phase while taking sesame and sunflower seeds but do not wish to continue to take them, how can I safely stop taking them to avoid harming my chances of staying pregnant?

    1. amyneuzil Post author

      Hi Jill,
      Great question! As far as I’m aware there isn’t any risk of harm to the pregnancy or the fetus by stopping the seeds, although just in case it might be a good idea to taper them down over a week or so. Just maybe do 1 tablespoon one day, then 2.5 teaspoons (there are 3 teaspoons in a tablespoon, just FYI) for a couple of days, then 2 teaspoons, etc… I honestly think it would be fine to stop cold turkey, but just in case you might as well taper. Best of luck to you!

  16. Pingback: Seed Cycling for Hormone Balance | To Health WIth That!

Comments are closed.