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Female Reproductive Health

Research conducted in the 1960s by Dr. Gloria Chacón revealed that alkaloids in maca were stimulating the testes and ovaries of rats, suggesting that maca's benefits may extend past its function as an adaptogen and extending into the hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal–gonad (HPAG) axis (1). Further, maca has been traditionally used for its fertility-enhancing benefits and is considered for its aphrodisiac effects (2,3). Despite this, very little research has been conducted on animals or in premenopausal (reproductive age) women to assess the effects of maca for a variety of reproductive health concerns. There is more evidence for its use and effectiveness in men's reproductive health and peri- and post-menopausal women.


Animal Studies


A 2005 (2) study explored yellow maca's effectiveness on female fertility parameters. The administration of an aqueous extract of lyophilized yellow maca resulted in a significant increase in the number of pups, likely due to a reduction in embryo resorption. Implantation rates were not increased, as observed by one earlier study (4). Further, it is not believed that the effects were a result of increased estrogenic activity but may be a result of more progestin-like activity. This study also found that yellow maca increased uterine weight in ovariectomized rats. The authors of this study note that the findings confirm the traditional uses of maca to enhance female fertility (2).


Progesterone and testosterone levels were increased in mice administered L. meyenii (unspecified color) with no reported changes in estradiol levels or embryo implantation rates (4). Another study fed female rats a 5%, 25%, or 50% diet of maca and observed a 4.5-fold increase in pro-oestrus luteinizing hormone (p<0.01) and a 19-fold increase in follicle-stimulating hormone levels (p<0.01) in those fed a diet of 50% maca (unspecified color). The authors state that this demonstrates that maca acts in a pharmacological, dose-dependent manner and supports the traditional use of maca to enhance fertility (5).


Human Studies


Participants (175 men and women) living in low altitudes (LA), 150 meters above sea level in Lima, Peru, and high altitudes (HA), 4,340 meters above sea level in Cerro de Pasco, Peru were included in a study comparing the efficacy of black and red maca. Of their many reported benefits in this study, 50% of all participants taking red maca extract reported an increased perception in sexual desire at the end of the 12-week study (6). However, this finding is non-specific to the outcomes for overall reproductive health in women.


To date, only one select formulation of specific concentrated maca phenotypes (referred to as MacaHarmony) has exhibited positive effects on women's reproductive health and modulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian (HPO) axis as seen by changes in estradiol, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), as reported in three case reports (7–9).


The first case report (7) is of a 31-year-old female diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Taking 500 mg twice daily of MacaHarmony for three months resulted in:

  • Normalization of menstrual frequency (28-32 days)

  • Resolution of ovulation pain and cramping

  • Improved ovulation evidenced by increased cervical mucus and libido

  • Decreased/resolved PMS duration and intensity of symptoms

  • Decreased menstrual flow

  • Decreased menstrual cramping

  • Hormone balancing is evidenced by a reduction in LH, normalization of LH/FSH ratio, and reduction in estradiol levels, supporting optimal fertility

It was also noted that the patient experienced worsening symptoms when the supplement was stopped for short durations of time.


The second case report (8) is of a 30-year-old female diagnosed with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) and PMS. Using 500 mg twice daily of MacaHarmony, along with cyclical use of bio-identical progesterone, resulted in the following results in 3 months:

  • Resolution of severe emotions (depression with ruminating negative thoughts and suicidal ideation) experienced in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle

  • Resolution of premenstrual headaches and fatigue

  • Resolution of menstrual cramping

  • Decreased menstrual flow

  • LH reduced to normal levels, resulting in a normal LH/FSH ratio


The third case report is of a 39-year-old female with PMS, dysmenorrhea, and menorrhagia. In four months, the patient experienced resolution of multiple PMS symptoms, including balanced moods, improved satiety, reduced cystic acne, and regulated bowel movements, as well as complete resolution of dysmenorrhea (menstrual pain and cramping), resolution of menorrhagia (as detailed by lighter menstrual cycles) by taking 500 mg twice daily of MacaHarmony (9).

Author: Jan Roberts, 

Reviewer: Deanna Minich, PhD

Last updated: February 20, 2024



1. Meissner HO, Reich-Bilinska H, Mscisz A, Kedzia B. Therapeutic Effects of Pre-Gelatinized Maca (Lepidium Peruvianum Chacon) used as a Non-Hormonal Alternative to HRT in Perimenopausal Women - Clinical Pilot Study. Int J Biomed Sci. 2006;

2. Ruiz-Luna AC, Salazar S, Aspajo NJ, Rubio J, Gasco M, Gonzales GF. Lepidium meyenii (Maca) increases litter size in normal adult female mice. Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology. 2005;3.

3. Zheng BL, He K, Kim CH, Rogers L, Shao Y, Huang ZY, et al. Effect of a lipidic extract from Lepidium meyenii on sexual behavior in mice and rats. Urology. 2000;55(4).

4. Oshima M, Gu Y, Tsukada S. Effects of Lepidium meyenii Walp and Jatropha macrantha on blood levels of estradiol-17 beta, progesterone, testosterone and the rate of embryo implantation in mice. J Vet Med Sci. 2003 Oct;65(10):1145–6.

5. Uchiyama F, Jikyo T, Takeda R, Ogata M. Lepidium meyenii (Maca) enhances the serum levels of luteinising hormone in female rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2014;151(2).

6. Gonzales-Arimborgo C, Yupanqui I, Montero E, Alarcón-Yaquetto DE, Zevallos-Concha A, Caballero L, et al. Acceptability, Safety, and Efficacy of Oral Administration of Extracts of Black or Red Maca (Lepidium meyenii) in Adult Human Subjects: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2016 Aug 18;9(3).

7. Hayes S, Manongi S, Ross K. Concentrated Gelatinized Proprietary Phenotype Formulation of Lepidium peruvianum (maca) Positively Impacts Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), Dysmenorrhea, and Hormone Levels for Fertility Optimization: A Case Report. Obstetrics & Gynecology: Open Access. 2024 Jan 5;8(1).

8. Fahoum M, Ross K. An Integrative Approach for Improving and Managing Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD): A Case Report. Current Research in Complementary & Alternative Medicine. 2023 Oct 27;7(4).

9. Ross K. Improvements in Premenstrual Syndrome, Primary Dysmenorrhea, and Menorrhagia with Natural Therapies: A Case Report. Current Research in Complementary & Alternative Medicine. 2023 Oct 5;7(4).

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