Emmenagogues (also spelled emmenagogs) are herbs which stimulate blood flow in the pelvic area and uterus; some stimulate menstruation. Women use emmenagogues to stimulate menstrual flow when menstruation is absent for reasons other than pregnancy, such as hormonal disorders or conditions like oligomenorrhea (light menses). They can also be used to stimulate menstruation when a woman desires to control the timing, e.g. ensure she is period-free for a special event such as a wedding or vacation, or to bring regularity to an otherwise irregular menstrual cycle.
According to Riddle, the term emmenagogue is used to cover up the true nature of the herb, which is an abortifacient. These herbs were used to assist women whose menstruation was 'delayed', for the obvious reason that they had conceived. Later on, this use was hidden and the term 'emmenagogue' was introduced to give the impression that the herb increased menstrual flow.
- Riddle J. 1999 Eve's Herbs, A History of Contraception and Abortion in the West. Harvard University Press.