Evening Primrose Oil: A Mama’s Favorite Remedy

Photo Credit: Alan Vernon

Post by contributing writer, Michele.

Jars of Evening Primrose Oil capsules have been a staple on my natural remedies shelf for years. I have found it to be beneficial during various “feminine” seasons of life. Rich in essential fatty acids, it can assist in addressing a wide range of concerns:

Trying to Conceive

In conjunction with charting your cycle, and drinking lots of water, taking Evening Primrose Oil during the days before ovulation may help increase your “fertile” conditions, as well as providing essential fatty acids needed during pregnancy. (Do not take after ovulation, since it can cause contractions.)

Always start with the lowest dosage, and gradually increase the amount as needed.

PMS/Monthly Cycle Concerns

Even if you don’t get pregnant, those two weeks (approximately) of taking the supplement each month may also help alleviate some of the hormonal challenges of PMS, and even help address irregular cycles.

Evening Primrose Oil is also commonly recommended for relief of painful Fibrocystic Breast Disease, which can be an additional concern of a monthly cycle. (After taking this for several months at the recommendation of my physician a few years ago, the results were very helpful for me!)

Photo Credit: Daquella manera

Pregnancy & Preparing for Labor

Many midwives will suggest dosages of Evening Primrose Oil to help prepare the cervix for labor. I tend toward the cautious side, preferring to begin the supplement around 38-40 weeks of pregnancy, but some women gradually begin (with small doses) a bit earlier, around 36-38 weeks.

Dosages usually begin with one or two 500 mg capsules orally, increasing up to a total of 2,500 mg per day. (The total is usually divided up, to be taken 2-3 times per day.) Other pregnant women use part of the total dosage as a suppository placed near the cervix, as well.

Use Evening Primrose Oil with caution during pregnancy, as it can induce labor in some women. Do not take if expecting surgery, as it may act as a blood thinner. Check with your midwife or care provider to see what is appropriate for your situation, before using.

Postpartum Healing

Some women have found that massaging some Evening Primrose Oil a couple times a day on the perineum has helped with their postpartum healing (such as painful scar tissue remaining weeks after an episiotomy has “healed”). Source: Midwifery Today

Taking this supplement orally during those last weeks of pregnancy as well as into postpartum may also have the benefit of decreasing the hormonal “blues” of postpartum.

(Best results are usually seen after taking it for a month or two; check with your provider. Please note, this is not a substitute for necessary treatment in the event of full postpartum depression!)

Breastfeeding Concerns

Evening Primrose Oil is usually considered safe for breastfeeding mamas, and can be helpful for addressing soreness during ovulation, Raynaud’s Syndrome, and plugged milk ducts. (I experienced all three of those over the past couple years, and have found relief from all of them, following the recommendations of my midwives & lactation consultant!) Source: KellyMom.com


Depending on the symptoms you experience, you may find Evening Primrose Oil beneficial, using a daily schedule of dosages (such as this one).

Over the years, I’ve found Evening Primrose Oil to be a frugal & simple solution for many health concerns, and a natural alternative to expensive and chemical-based products from the pharmacy.

Has Evening Primrose Oil worked for you?

About Michele

Michele and her husband Calvin live a simple & sustainable life in rural Washington with their two- going on three- (busy!) little ones at Hampton Creek Inn. She takes joy in the daily ministry of delving into creativity, traditional homemaking & hospitality, homeschooling in everyday moments, and smooching her husband in the woods. Michele loves encouraging women and equipping them for frugal, natural living through her blog, Frugal Granola.

61 Responses to Evening Primrose Oil: A Mama’s Favorite Remedy

  1. Mayra October 19, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

    I was reading all the comments and have a question I have 2 previous c sections but we are trying to a vaginal delivery this time around . I’m almost 38 weeks and my dr checked my cervix 2 days ago and she said it’s closed and hard as a rock and still tours the rectum I’m afraid I will not dilate in time and they will try to induse or do another c section . I bought the epo capsules today and was wondering if I fake one orally at night and insert one would it affect me with the c section scars?? I read a comment where someone said it can cause the uterus to tear since the oil will make the uterus to contract but not the scar from a c section… I really want to have my baby normal and of I can with no meds …. Please if someone knows let me know I will take it orally for right now

  2. Barbara June 24, 2013 at 9:35 pm #

    Hi Michelle,
    I am a little confused about evening primrose oil.
    On one hand you are supposed to take it in the first half of the cycle but on the other hand according to seed cycling http://www.mountainlakewellness.com/2/post/2012/11/seed-cycling-for-hormone-balancing.html you are supposed to take it in the second half of the cycle if you want to regulate your cycles. I am not sure when to take it now. To complicate matters even more I have Krill oil with EPO from Dr. Mercola. According to seed cycling Krill oil should be taken in the first part of cycle and primrose in the second part of cycle! I cannot separate these 2 supplements!
    Thank you.

  3. stacie4791 March 17, 2013 at 9:31 pm #

    I am almost 40 weeks and I am not effaced or dilated at all. I read about EPO and was wondering if it is to late to start taking it and have an effect. I insert one vaganlly before I go to bed. I have done this for 3 days now. They are 1000mg oil c apsles. I want an easier labor and don’t want to have to be cut. Should I take them orally also? I heard on another posting about this that someone overdosed taking to many for PMS. She just got really sick. I don’t want to take to much, but I really want it to help me. What do you recomend I take? How much and how? And do you think it will help? I will be 40 weeks in 4 days.

    • amber March 21, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

      i started them during week 38.5 you are supposed to start at 37 week.. insert one vaginally at night before you go to bed and take one orally around the time you take your prenatal vitamin…. i use prenexa prenatal vitamins with dha and omega 3 i live it because it has a built in stool softener :) get a birthing ball from target or tuesday morning.. sit on it with your legs apart in a squat position hold on to the end of a couch or table for better balance.. move your hips back and forth.. put on some slow music and just stretch from one ide to the next…i promise you you will feel relaxed and this will open the cervix right up.. although you are over 40 weeks.. please dont let anyone talk you into being induced.. it causes a bad chain of reactions that leads to an epi/ or a c- section.. TRUST YOUR BODY>> LISTEN TO YOUR BODY>> THIS IS WHAT YOU WHERE MADE TO DO! :)

      • Heather October 3, 2013 at 10:27 am #

        thank you! 37 wks with #3, both others were posterior and struggled to dilate…no one told me about this!!! Off to the store asap, and definitely taking the prenatal into account!

  4. Tiffani January 20, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

    My OB just put me on EPO 4 times a day with 1300mg capsules. I am in my 39th week and she said my cervix was “hard as a rock”. She didnt say anything about putting them in the hoohaa so i’m keeping them up north. How long is this stuff supposed to take? Ill let yall know if i find out soon :-)

    • Ivett February 11, 2013 at 9:09 pm #

      Didi it really work???in how long before u went in labor??? In how many days or weeks???

    • amber February 18, 2013 at 7:30 pm #

      Hi tiff.. im responding to your post from the hospital bed as we speakĀ”… i just gave birth to a beautiful 9lb 11oz baby boy at 305am sunday…. trust me when i tell you…TAKE IT..IT WORKS..TAKE ONE OR TWO ORALLY AND INSERT ONE VAGINALLY AT NIGHT STARTING AT 38WEEKS.. my first baby came on my due date and was out in two pushes all natural delivery…. no rips or stitches… she was 7/11… i started them on schedule with her… with the baby i had sunday i started on the 12of feb… it was due the 13… if i would have taken them on schedule the baby would have come on the 13th instead of the 17th..my midwife didnt mind it being a few days behind schedule… babies come when they are ready… the ob in the practice however asked me if i wanted to be induced and i was only 40 weeks and one day…bottom line… take the pills… they work!

    • amber March 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm #

      it lubricates the vagina and ripens the cervix.. i just pushed out a 9lb 11 oz baby.. in three pushes with no medical intervention no epiz.. no rips or stitches! this is baby number 2 for me the oldest just turned 3 on feb 13th.. trust and believe me this stuff works.. i dont swear.. but i swear on this stuff!! :)

  5. Brit January 6, 2013 at 5:15 pm #

    Hello, I just turned 37 weeks pregnant and almost all my family members run late in having their babies, and I want to avoid that. I have been reading up on evening primrose oil as a use to help soften you up so you do begin labor and purchased a bottle of the 1000 mg capsules today. I took one orally but I just wanted to know if taking it orally will work as well as inserting into your *ahem* area… Cuz I’m a little uncomfortable about that!

    • Lindsay January 7, 2013 at 9:14 am #

      I always just took them orally, but I recommend starting at 38 weeks.

  6. maria November 28, 2012 at 1:05 pm #

    Hi I’m 38 weeks 3 days and I want to now how much dose a day do I take and do I use it vaginally too ?

  7. Lee November 15, 2012 at 12:32 am #

    Just started using epo I’m 36 weeks 3 days and when I took a bath this morning I saw some white mucus should I stop taking epo

  8. Lee November 15, 2012 at 12:30 am #

    Just started using epo I’m 36 weeks 3 days and when I took a bath this morning I saw some white mucus should I stop taking

  9. Kelly September 2, 2012 at 6:28 am #

    I’m 36 weeks 5 days pregnant with fifth child. I’ve been induced with all previous pregnancy and I really would like to see how it feels to go into labor naturally. Problem is, my doc said baby is very low and warned me that this labor will most likely be fast. I’m kinda scared I won’t make it to hospital on time if I take the pills or oil. Also, I’m not dilated at all, with last labor, my cervix did not want to dilate the last centimeter and I REALLY had to hold back from pushing and I had to get stitches for all labors (I’m only 4’10 and my babies were all over 8lbs, one was 9lbs!) So I’m indecisive about taking it, it seems I can benefit from using it, as I’ve been waking up with eyes and feet swollen and read somewhere this herb can also help with that. Any advice/suggestions? I really do want to go into labor naturally.

  10. C8 July 26, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

    EPO relieved me from breast cyst pain. A few years ago, I had to get a cyst drained in my left breast. Before the doc examined me, i warned the doc that the cyst might be the biggest he has seen. But after looking at my chart he reassured me he had seen bigger. Upon examination, the doc instantly found religion and exclaimed “JESUS!!!!” :) ha ha ha!!! He said indead I could turn out to be a record breaker!!! He preceded to draw 9 syringfuls of fluid! He proclaimed me the winner of his 25+ years of experience!!! Yea me. But not so much the pain was excruciating!!! 10X worse than engorgement! Any movement hurt immensely.
    But anyways, I was overjoyed to be relieved of all the extra fluid needle to say. But as I was exiting the examination room, doc warned it was possible that it would come back. Ugh. And he was right, few week ago same thing. I’m like, I don’t want surgery, I don’t want to be worrying for the rest of life about getting a stupid cyst drained every friggin’ year and half so… I go online for natural remedies( earth clinic is my go to site) and find that kelp is recommended…so I try that and since I tend be REALLy impatient person, after taking 2 capsule and no pain relief I’m like what the heck yo!! So to the net I go….find out bout some EPO…and after 2 cap…. Taken within 6 hrs of each other, PAIn WAS ToTaLLy goNE!!!! No
    Lie!!! Miracle stuff EPO!!! Love love it!!!!
    That’s it, I’m out! :)

    • C8 July 26, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

      Forgot to mention my cyst was size of an orange!!

    • Mona February 8, 2013 at 2:01 am #

      dear, what’s the best time of the day to take EPO? i used to take it but stopped because i suffered from diahrrea . thank you

  11. Felicia November 2, 2011 at 9:53 am #

    I was only a month or two pregnant with #2 when you wrote this. I emailed it to myself so I could remember to take your advice and give Primrose Oil a try. I was induced with my first baby and desperately wanted to avoid that the second time around. I started taking the supplement at 38 weeks, gradually increased the dosage, and went into labor spontaneously only 2 days after my due date. And I was able to have my breech baby vaginally and naturally. I definitely attribute going into labor on my own, as well as the ease of her delivery, partly to Evening Primrose Oil. Thanks so much for posting about it!

    • Melissa November 2, 2011 at 9:56 am #

      Felicia- I saw your comment on this post and I thought I might ask you, how did you measure your dosage? Did you take it orally or in a vaginal suppository? I am having such a hard time finding information on this… Thanks for any feedback you can give!

      • Lindsay November 2, 2011 at 11:58 am #

        I personally took Evening Primrose Oil from 38 weeks onwards at a dosage of 2 capsules a day orally.

        • Melissa November 2, 2011 at 12:37 pm #

          Thanks Lindsay. I bought a bottle of it from Mountain Rose Herbs and am having trouble figuring out how much to measure out to take per day, since it is not a capsule but just the liquid oil. Do you have any thoughts?

          • Lindsay November 2, 2011 at 3:44 pm #

            Two capsules is probably equivalent to 1 teaspoon.

  12. Melissa October 28, 2011 at 7:38 am #

    I am 33 weeks with my second. I did not use EPO with my first. I bought the 4 oz. jar from Mountain Rose Herbs and it is just the oil, not capsules. If I wanted to take it orally, how do I measure 500mg, 1000mg, 2500mg etc.? Also How much would I want to put in a capsule if I wanted to make a vaginal suppository?

    I have been searching for this information and can not seem to find it anywhere! I would be so thankful for your feedback!

  13. Gabriella April 11, 2011 at 8:37 pm #

    Evening Primrose Oil is great and I have used it orally at the end of this pregnancy! However, I would add a CAUTION if you have had a caesarean. I talked with my OB about the idea of inserting the capsules vaginally to prepare the cervix and he said not to because it could cause the uterus to tear. The prostaglandins can cause the uterus to contract, but the scar tissue will not. Be sure to talk with your doctor!

    • lindsay January 8, 2013 at 2:05 pm #

      I am a little confused….the uterus contracts all the time after a c-section, that is how it shrinks back to normal size….are you saying the contractions from taking this supplement are different than normal contractions?

  14. Meggan April 2, 2011 at 6:04 am #

    I was wondering if this should be taking in addition to a fish oil supplement that also has omega fatty acids in it? Or should it be on its own?

  15. Ashley March 20, 2011 at 9:47 am #

    A question about the skin issue. My 3 year old daughter gets bad eczema and i wonder if i could use it with her. Could i just rub it on her skin? The doctor give me a steroid ointment to use. I just found out it was a steroid and do not feel comfortable using it anymore. It just helped the dryness anyway and did not address the issue. TIA

  16. Sherrin March 12, 2011 at 7:04 pm #

    I used some capsules internally shortly before the birth of both my babies in an attempt to soften the cervix. The baby came quite soon after (within days) both times I used it, and I had good labours (if labour can ever be called good!) but it is impossible to say how much the primrose oil had to do with it! I will use it again though if I am ever in that stage of life again!

  17. kd March 12, 2011 at 2:49 pm #

    i have had reoccurring plugged ducts for weeks and weeks…my daughter is 3.5 months old. I had two bouts of mastitis and an abscess and was on antibiotics because of it. Because of the antibiotics I unfortunately got thrush so have been pumping for the past month. I am taking lecithin, kombucha tea, drinking tons of water and trying to avoid chocolate/caffeine/peanuts. I am still getting plugged ducts every other day. I have talked to two lactation consultants and they both have said that I have done everything I can do and they don’t understand why it’s still happening. I see that going to a chiropractor helped you. I am so interested in this and very desperate as this is getting so tiring. Thank you for your help.

  18. Kate March 9, 2011 at 9:10 am #

    Thank you so much for posting this. I am excited to look into it more!

    You mentioned that EPO can help with plugged milk ducts when breastfeeding – I’ve been suffering from these (almost every other week) and have not been able to find a solution, despite talking to lactation consultants, researching, LLL, etc. I know each situation is different, but how much/often did you take EPO to help you? Thanks for any suggestions you can give. :)

    • Michele @ Frugal Granola March 11, 2011 at 8:44 am #

      Actually, with it happening that regularly, I ended up seeing a chiropractor, which helped amazingly, to finally clear the re-occuring clogs.

      However, I would vary the number of capsules taken, until I started to see results (starting with just 1 or 2, and taking them through the day as needed).

      But once I saw the chiropractor, I didn’t need them anymore (it’s been a year since then!). :)


  19. Amy March 8, 2011 at 3:10 pm #

    Very timely article! I’m about 36 weeks and was considering using it with this birth (2nd son) but wasn’t sure. Thanks for the dosage recommendations & all the comments!

  20. Jenn March 8, 2011 at 12:41 pm #

    glad you wrote on this! I am going to start taking it in a couple of weeks to hopefully have a quicker labor. I didn’t use it with my first so it will be interesting to see if it does help. Thanks for all of the information!

  21. Kim W March 8, 2011 at 9:09 am #

    I am 52 & have taken EPO for about 4 yrs, as menopause was approaching & has now arrived. It helps tremendously w/hot flashes & night sweats. I am determined to stay off of HRT, my regimen is: 1 TB flaxseed oil, 3 EPO caps, 1 generous squirt of Progesterone Cream daily (Progesterone Cream is on 3 wks/off 1 wk).

    I wrote about this on my blog, a while back, too.

    Thanks for the information. Very useful.

    Blessings from Ohio…Kim<

  22. Aidan March 8, 2011 at 7:37 am #

    I took very small doses my entire pregnancy. I slowly dilated over the course of a few weeks before she was due and was already at 7cm when I went into labor :) Labor was only 8-9 hrs (for my first), and I had her natural with no episiotomy. LOVE EPO!

  23. Karen March 8, 2011 at 6:51 am #

    I was wondering where you get your EPO as you say that it is frugal. I did take it in preparation of labor and it worked like a charm.

    • Michele @ Frugal Granola March 8, 2011 at 11:00 am #

      I have been able to find it in natural food/supplement sections in grocery stores in all the towns we’ve lived in over the years. :) I haven’t been “stuck” on any one brand, and purchase what fits in my budget, usually a bottle for $7 or less.

      Michele :)

    • Angie March 9, 2011 at 6:37 am #

      I order it from Mountain Rose Herbs in OR, They sell a quality 16oz bottle for $18 or they have a smaller bottle also- that’s 2 cups! It’s just liquid oil in a bottle like how you buy olive oil. I just take it straight, it’s bitter but easy and much much less expensive this way. I keep it in the fridge.


      (I also get coconut oil from Mountian Rose Herbs.)

      I’ve found it does help level hormones.

      I’ve used EPO taking 6-8 caps a day at the end of one pregnancy.

      I’ve taken 1-2 TBSP a day at end of two other pregnancies. These dosages did not induce labor for me, but I don’t know about you;) The labors with the EPO were much easier but I also did many other things that could have caused them to be so much easier so I don’t know if it was EPO.

  24. Thomasin March 8, 2011 at 5:38 am #

    Interesting! Thanks for the info.

  25. Taylor at Household Management 101 March 7, 2011 at 8:15 pm #

    Recently I interviewed a dermatologist for a post about winter skin care tips on my site, and she mentioned using evening primrose oil to help keep your skin soft and hydrated in the winter. Before that interview I had never heard about it before. Thanks for telling me even more info.

  26. Renee G. March 7, 2011 at 6:44 pm #

    I started taking these on my due date in hopes for it to start contractions. I don’t know if it helped or not but my child was born two days later. I figured it didn’t hurt to try! I feel pretty lucky that I was only two days late with my first child!

  27. Tanya March 7, 2011 at 4:43 pm #

    I have found EPO to be very helpful for breast soreness/tenderness around ovulation time when nursing my little ones.

    More recently, I have used it for mittelschmerz, and when I remember to take it, it does help! :)

  28. Maryea {Happy Healthy Mama} March 7, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

    Thanks for this interesting information!

  29. Danielle March 7, 2011 at 3:02 pm #

    I recently bought some EPO capsules, but I have a reaaalllly hard time swallowing them because of their large size. Do you know if it would be ok to squeeze the oil out of the gel capsule and drink it instead?

    • Eyes March 8, 2011 at 2:34 am #

      My grandmother used to cut them open and mix with a spoon full of honey, grandad just popped them and squeezed straight into his mouth.

    • Michele @ Frugal Granola March 8, 2011 at 11:01 am #

      Yes, Danielle,
      There’s no nutritional benefit in the capsule, so that would work fine, I’d think. :) You can also add it to a salad dressing!


  30. jerilyn March 7, 2011 at 2:16 pm #

    epo helped me get to 3cm by 37 weeks with my second child. he still came way late & labor was a good chunk of time, but it was beneficial, i think.

  31. BriAnn March 7, 2011 at 2:04 pm #

    Hi, I am wanting to try this in hopes it can help us conceive. What dose do you recommend taking? Do I start taking it the first day I get my period until I have an LH surge? Any info would be very helpful. Thanks.

    • Michele @ Frugal Granola March 8, 2011 at 11:03 am #

      Hi, BriAnn,
      I recommend diving into your own research, to find what best fits your body/cycle needs. Everyone seems to respond to a different amount, and you might need to gradually adjust the amount you take, until it feels right. Yes, you would take it starting the 1st day of your period, up to ovulation.

      Michele :)

  32. wendi March 7, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

    I read a wonderful book I got from the library all about Evening primrose oil and it was very interesting to read about the different uses!
    A few were allergies, diabetes, I believe ADHD and high cholesterol.

  33. liz March 7, 2011 at 8:17 am #

    I used it for twice daily “massages” after 36 weeks of pregnancy. I still went to 41 weeks. But it helped with the delivery. At least that’s what I tell my self.

    • Michele @ Frugal Granola March 7, 2011 at 8:50 am #

      Yes, it may very well have helped with the delivery! :) Some pregnancies really do need to go to 41 weeks (or longer!), and EPO should never be used to try to make birth happen sooner than its time. Sounds like it worked out just right for you! :) Congratulations on your baby!


  34. Randi March 7, 2011 at 8:02 am #

    Can it help with mood swings associated with mentrual cycle? I get awful mood swings, to the point my family doesn’t want to be around me. (and neither do I!)

    • Michele @ Frugal Granola March 7, 2011 at 8:48 am #

      Some people have found mood benefits with EPO; you may want to try it out. (It may take a few months before you start seeing results.) I also like to use an herbal tea blend for PMS, which is in my ebook, “Herbal Nurturing.”


  35. Pamela O. March 7, 2011 at 7:45 am #

    I used it as a suppository in preparation for labor with my third. I ended up delivering a week early (she was a healthy 8lbs10oz) and didn’t tear! Both were a first for me. My first two kids came late and I had 2nd degree tears with both. Not sure if it was the EPO but I will be using it for my next baby without a doubt.

    I have also read that it can be used for dandruff, have you heard of that?

    • Michele @ Frugal Granola March 7, 2011 at 8:51 am #

      Yes, EPO can be a good supplement for helping address dry skin, which would probably include dandruff. :)


      • Jamie March 31, 2012 at 5:34 am #

        Thank you for this article! I am 38 weeks and considering moving things along. This is my 5th baby. My husband has had awful trouble with dandruff as well, and the shampoos give him a reaction on his forehead. I am going to give EPO a try on that too! Great information!

    • Vanessa Mumford February 6, 2012 at 5:14 pm #

      how many did you use at a time? I am 39 weeks and wanted to start using this.