Fertility Herb Maca Improves LH Surge

A herb known as Maca (Lepidium meyenii) has been traditionally used in Peru and in the Andean regions for the enhancement of fertility. This plant’s root has been cultivated among traditional cultures for centuries for its effects on fertility both in males and in females. A new study released in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in December 2013 studied the impact of maca root on female rats. The study found that maca root significantly increased the surge of luteinizing hormone (LH) from the pituitary gland of the rats. LH (luteinizing hormone) is produced by the anterior pituitary gland in the brain. As the follicle grows in the ovary, estrogen rises in the bloodstream, and the increasing levels of estrogen feedback on the pituitary gland to produce a strong surge of LH. This “surge” stimulates the process of ovulation and the release of the egg, and encourages the follicle to transform into the progesterone producing corpus luteum. Progesterone is the hormone which makes the endometrial lining implantable for the embryo. As such, it’s quite clear that a strong surge of LH is key for healthy fertility.

Luteinizing hormone deficiencies can have serious impacts on ovulation and fertility. In this study, a range of dosages of Maca were given to the female rats, ranging from 3 to 30g Maca/kg for a period of 7 weeks prior to the cycle during which the study was performed. During the first half of the rats’ cycle (which would correspond with the first half of the menstrual cycle in humans) a 4.5-fold increase in luteinising hormone (LH) was observed in the blood of rats fed with the Maca powder when compared to control rats. It appeared that the LH surge increased with dose, in a similar manner to how a pharmacological drug would work. Luteinizing hormone deficiencies can have serious impacts on ovulation and fertility. In this study, a range of dosages of Maca were given to the female rats, ranging from 3 to 30g Maca/kg for a period of 7 weeks prior to the cycle during which the study was performed. During the first half of the rats’ cycle (which would correspond with the first half of the menstrual cycle in humans) a 4.5-fold increase in luteinising hormone (LH) was observed in the blood of rats fed with the Maca powder when compared to control rats. It appeared that the LH surge increased with dose, in a similar manner to how a pharmacological drug would work.

In women who have a poor LH surge, or who are experiencing difficulty in ovulating, Maca may prove to be useful. However, as this study was performed on rats, more research is required before the hormonal effects of maca on human females can be fully understood. In women who have a poor LH surge, or who are experiencing difficulty in ovulating, Maca may prove to be useful. However, as this study was performed on rats, more research is required before the hormonal effects of maca on human females can be fully understood.

Some common conditions in women with deficiencies of LH include amenorrhea (loss of the menstrual cycles), loss of the menstrual cycle or low body fat in eating disorders, hypothalamic amenorrhea (loss of the periods related to stress or other changes in the brain), high prolactin, or female athletes who have ceased having their menstrual cycles. It is possible that if maca has the same effect in increasing pituitary LH in humans, that it could prove to be useful in reestablishing ovulation in women with some of the above conditions.

Maca has been studied quite extensively and clinical trials have suggested that maca extracts can increase semen quality, and improve libido in men. Maca has also been shown to improve sperm production, sperm motility, and semen volume. Maca has also been studied for menopausal symptoms in menopause focused journals, finding improvements in a variety of the symptoms of menopause. A recent review in 2011 in the journal Maturitas, found that Maca provided significant benefit for menopausal symptoms such as anxiety and sexual dysfunction. Maca has a relatively good safety profile, according to Natural Standard. It appears to be quite safe when taken as a food, possibly safe when taken in larger amounts up to 3 grams per day, and is well tolerated by most people. As it has been consumed in large quantities in the Peruvian highland diet for thousands of years, it appears to be a relatively non toxic plant.

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1 thought on “Fertility Herb Maca Improves LH Surge”

  1. My last LP was only 6/7 days long and I’m pretty sure my LH surge is weak (never get positive OPKs). I would like to try MACA during the next cycle, but I have a few questions.
    1) Can it be taken with Femara?
    2) What day should it be started- CD 1?
    3) What dose would you recommend? I was thinking of 2,000 to 3,000 mg per day.

    Any advice or insight would be much appreciated.

    Thanks!

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