Is Maca Root The Viagra For Menopausal Women?

July 21, 2015

Body

maca root

Menopause can do a number on a woman’s sex drive. After a lifetime of enjoying a healthy sex life, many menopausal or perimenopausal women suddenly find themselves losing interest in sex. They stop getting aroused like they used to. Their ability to have orgasms decreases.

While it doesn’t happen to all women, a low libido is high on the list of concerns for many menopausal patients, causing significant distress and potential conflicts in their intimate relationships.

Has hope for these women sprouted in the form of a Peruvian root?

Recently, a South American herb known as “maca root” has been heralded by the popular press as a potential boost to women’s sex drive. Long revered by ancient cultures for its reputed ability to enhance energy, vitality and libido, the maca root is being put to the test today in clinical studies aimed at assessing its usefulness in enhancing libido in menopausal women. In December 2014 even The Wall Street Journal took note, reporting on the growing body of maca research and claims. And although the data is still limited and inconclusive, there are some practitioners who are certain it has helped their patients. It remains unclear how this root might work, since it has no impact on hormone levels, but some preliminary studies suggest improvement in sex drive when compared to placebo.

One recent study looked at the use of maca root in the treatment of women with antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction. The study found maca led to significant improvement in sexual functioning in postmenopausal women, and the herb was well tolerated.1 Maca has also been shown to improve depression symptoms and hot flashes in some postmenopausal women, as reported in Menopause2 and Climacteric.3 For postmenopausal women unable to take estrogen replacement therapy due to health concerns, maca could prove to be a safe and effective alternative.

For years, men have had the luxury of the “little blue pill.” Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1998, Viagra was the first treatment for erectile dysfunction to arrive on the market. The rest is history. As evidenced by the number of TV ads alone, erectile dysfunction or “ED” is clearly a common problem for aging men and there is a treatment for it. Unfortunately, to date there is no such “little pink pill” for women.

It’s unlikely there will ever be a one-size-fits-all treatment for low libido in women. Why? Because a woman’s sexual functioning is a complicated interplay of hormones, mood and relationship characteristics. As any woman will tell you, sometimes the biggest turn on is a man running the vacuum cleaner and loading the dishwasher. And they don’t yet make a pill for that.

In the meantime, maca appears to be a safe, possibly effective way to improve sexual function and desire in menopausal women, raising the hopes of those struggling with low libido.

1 Evid Based Complement Alternat Med.  Epub 2015 Apr 14
2 Menopause 2008 Nov-Dec; 15(6):1157-62
3 Climacteric 2015 Jun; 18(3):364-71

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