Maca root – does it help to increase fertility?

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Maca root improves sexual function and sperm parameters in animals. Image courtesy: taoty at

As many of you know, I pride myself with having a blog where I report on everything related to egg health. By this I mean everything that is scientifically proven to work.

However, many foods, nutrients, and supplements have never been thoroughly tested in clinical trials with humans.

This does not necessarily mean they would not be effective in improving egg quality, it means simply that there has not been enough commercial interest in testing them on a large scale so far.

When I coach women with infertility, one of the questions I sometimes get is about maca root extract.

In fact, the subject of maca root has been raised enough times to deserve a dedicated blog post.

Maca powder to enhance fertility

Peruvian maca is a root vegetable that grows in the mountains of South America.

It contains proteins, vitamins, and minerals in a combination that we still don’t understand—but it apparently does something good to us.

Maca is reported to have strong lifting effects and to provide extra power for exercising. Perhaps that explains its traditional use to enhance male and female sexual functions as well as for depression.

Maca is available as a dietary supplement (such as this one here) in the form of a powder, liquid, capsule, and tablets. The usual dosage is 500 milligrams of dried maca extract taken 3 times a day.

There are no adverse reactions ever reported with maca root. However, if you have a thyroid condition or another metabolic disorder you should, in my opinion, not experiment with any plant extract, maca included.


maca root does it help

Maca root: more than a placebo. Image courtesy: taoty at

Although no high-quality clinical trials of maca with infertile women or women in IVF treatments have been conducted (this means: double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled testing), some studies have been done with healthy women and men. Here are some highlights:

1. One extensive literature search that reviewed 203 websites mentioning Peruvian maca was carried out in 2014 and published here (click to read the abstract):

The study mentions that the use of (oft unlicensed) supplements to enhance sexual function is drastically increasing over the years. The authors say that this phenomenon, combined with the availability of these products over the Internet, represents a challenge for public health and needs to be extensively monitored. OK.

2. A study published in Maturitas in 2011 (here is the summary) admits that maca extract could prove to be effective in treating menopausal symptoms. However, after a systematic review of 17 databases that compared all types of maca root-based interventions, authors concluded that all available results provide only limited evidence of effectiveness so far.

The total number of trials,their methodological quality, and total sample size are far too limited to draw any serious conclusions. Therefore, we can’t do much more but hope that maca will soon be tested in larger and better-designed clinical studies.

There is another intersing piece on information I found on maca:

On the pages of the Memorial Sloan Cancer Institute here, you can find evidence to support the use of maca in improving sexual function in animals. Further, they say that a few studies showed increased sexual desire, sperm count, and motility.

However, if you or your partner is taking maca, please keep in mind that maca may interfere with lab tests that measure testosterone levels (important for those in fertility treatmens or taking DHEA).

Here you can find one case-study that describes this effect of maca on testosterone blood levels:

So much for the science—now comes the exciting stuff!

If you would like to know what I hear during my counseling work from women and men taking maca, then here is what they mentioned: maca increases sexual drive, maca brings better mood, there were also descriptions of “stronger erections” and “sensitive nipples.” while taking maca.

Most people I’ve talked to use powdered maca and mix it in their morning shakes, but I would guess other forms should work too (I’m currently playing with the idea of taking this one with my next order of supplements).

Good luck and let me know if you see some positive effects of maca! See you soon, 





2018-06-18T10:11:51+00:00 July 4th, 2016|Tags: , , |

About the Author:

Darja Wagner, a PhD cell biologist combines her knowledge of cells, hormones and vitamins to help women with infertility issues. She is the author of the blog "All About Egg Health: How to Get Pregnant After 35". Darja helps women to apply latest advances in reproductive biology to maximize egg quality for higher chances of conception, in either a natural way or by means of assisted reproductive technology.


  1. Stephanie September 8, 2016 at 5:10 pm


    I have a question regarding this paragraph in the article above:
    There are no adverse reactions ever reported with maca root. However, if you have a thyroid condition or another metabolic disorder you should, in my opinion, not experiment with any plant extract, maca included.

    Can you tell me the WHY? Currently trying to improve my egg health and I’ve used Maca powder in smoothies before and it makes me feel great! However, I have slightly elevated thyroid level and currently take .5 mcg of synthroid. While I’ve never noticed anything bad going on I wonder what you mean when you’re referring to not recommending plant extract with thyroid issues.

    I should note a few things; I am 31 years old with unexplained secondary infertility (7 years). My first IVF cycle cancelled due to low egg maturity number and no embryos making it past day 5, I eat 95% paleo (occasional treat or bread), I have the worst adult acne and can’t take medications while going through IVF to treat it but I think it has something to do with my hormones because when I do take maca my face is clear. I’m trying to improve my egg quality before we start another IVF.

    Thank you for any insight you have!

    • darja October 7, 2016 at 11:44 am

      dear stephanie, thank you for your question. i don’t adress personal fertility diagnosis in public or via website. however, you can book an appointment (skype, chat, email) with me as described here and i’ll gladly answer your questions one by one. best wishes,

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