Is maca an adaptogen that's important for sexual health?
Sexual dysfunction is a hard reality for 40-45% of women and 20%-30% of men worldwide, sending many Googling natural alternatives to enhance health, experience greater intimacy, and have more pleasurable sex [source]. Maca is buzzing in the natural health space for its touted benefits to improve sexual health.
Many people seek it out for its touted benefits to sexual health. Learn more about maca, its nutrition facts, whether it’s an adaptogen, and if it’s good for sexual health.
What is maca?
Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is a plant root native to Peru that dates back to 2000 years ago. It’s a cruciferous vegetable just like broccoli, kale, and cabbage. Whether it was red maca, black maca, or yellow maca, natives would traditionally cook the root before eating it or they would add it to soups, juices, and extracts for better nutrition.
What was the motivation to eat maca way back then? Maca has long been used to enhance fertility, improve sexual desire and function, and relieve symptoms of menopause [source]. Women also may consider using maca root for menstrual cramps. Today, it comes in many forms, including powders, pills, capsules, extracts, etc.
Maca is chock-full of nutrition benefits, making it a highly sought-after plant root today to help solve various sexual problems [source]. It packs a healthy combination of protein fiber, calcium, vitamin C, copper, and iron. In addition, maca contains a significant amount of essential amino acids, fatty acids, and bioactive compounds like phenols [source][source]. Phenolic compounds function as antioxidants against oxidative stress and inflammation [source].
Is maca an adaptogen?
It’s no surprise that maca contains lots of good-for-you nutrients that support good health. To answer the questions “is maca an adaptogen?” we must find out what an adaptogen is.
Dr. Nicolai V. Lazarec, a scientist and medical doctor, first coined the term “adaptogen” in the 1940s [source]. There are two types of adaptogens, man-made adaptogens and plant adaptogens.
A plant adaptogen is an herb that supports your body’s ability to handle stress. People of all ages are vulnerable to stress in life, and it can come from trauma, infection, or even anxiety[source]. Long-term, stress can lead to inflammation and disease, so adaptogens equip your body to resist the wear and tear that stress causes.
Maca is an adaptogen that offers multiple health benefits for men and women [source].
Benefits of maca to sexual health
1. Maca may improve hormone balance
Many women experience changes to their sexual function around the time of menopause that can put a damper on the desire for bedroom play. But, take heart because studies show that maca may help with reigniting sexual desire.
In a small study , 22 pre-menopausal women took 1000 milligrams of gelatinized maca or a placebo daily for four months. They found significant increases in estrogen and relief of menopausal symptoms such as headache, depression, hot flashes, and loss of libido [source].
A maca root component called Lepidiline A (LA) was given to mice in a more recent animal study. The study reported increased sex hormones testosterone and estrogen, improvements in hormone balance,, and reproductive activity [source].
Furthermore, increases in testosterone promotes sexual desire and makes it possible to create sperm [source].
2. It could increase libido
Low libido can create a giant rift between couples and prevent them from experiencing healthy intimacy. Maca may be a helpful remedy. An early study found that men taking 1.5 or 3 grams of maca each day had higher libido than those who took a placebo [source].
A 2015 study of 45 women with medication-induced sexual dysfunction took 3000 milligrams of maca for three months and saw significant enhancements in libido and sexual function compared to placebo [source].
Lastly, a 2008 study on adults, looked at maca’s effect on sexual dysfunction caused by anti-depressant medications. Subjects started taking maca at 1.5 grams or 3 grams daily. The groups taking a higher dose of maca had significant improvements in sexual function, more sexual activity attempts, and increases in libido [source].
3. Maca may lower sexual dysfunction
As stated earlier, sexual dysfunction impacts many, and maca could make a safe and helpful solution to improving sexual function and getting you and your partner close again.
A 2008 study on 14 postmenopausal women found dosing them with 3.5 grams of maca or placebo daily for 12 weeks. The study saw that taking maca led to more minors sexual dysfunction and fewer psychological symptoms [source].
4. It might boost fertility
For couples looking to improve their sexual health for baby-making, maca has shown to possible help with concieving. In a 2020 animal study, LA was fed at varying doses to insects for two weeks. Compared to the group given a placebo, the maca group experienced significant increases for fertility [source]. Maca also improves sperm quality and quantity in mice creating better chances of conception[source].
A 2019 study on 189 women trying to conceive found that women taking a blend of maca extract, Vitex agnus-castus, and vitamins increased ovulation from 10% to 43% after 18 months [source].
5. Maca may promote sexual well-being
Erectile dysfunction (ED) impacts multitudes of men today wreaking havoc on relationships and leading to low self-esteem, anxiety, stress, and depression.
In males with mild cases of ED, a small 2009 study looked at the impact of taking 2.4 grams of maca root daily compared to a placebo. In the groups taking maca root there were significant boosts in sexual well-being.
Ready to enhance your sexual health with maca?
Maca is an adaptogen that research shows may benefit your sexual health. Thanks to maca, studies report improvements in hormone balance, libido, sexual function, fertility, and sexual well-being.
bido drinks include maca root extract because we believe adapotgenic herbs can help promote a healthy sex life. Along with maca, bido blends many other sex-enhancing nutrients so you and your significant other can stay healthy, happy, and horny together.Visit our product page to reap the benefits of maca, which you’ll find in both our for him and for her drinks.
Gaby McPherson MS, RDN, LDN
Gaby is a full-time freelance writer, specializing in evidence-based health, nutrition, and wellness articles, as well as creating engaging content for health brands. Her clients have been Healthline, Ovia Health, Happiest Baby, Once Upon a Farm, EatingWell, and more. She's very passionate about reproductive and family health. When she’s not writing, Gaby spends her free time dancing to the Encanto soundtrack with her beautiful preschooler.