Does ginseng improve sperm quality?

In a nutshell

This review looked at whether ginseng improves sperm quality. It found that ginseng may improve sperm quality.

Some background

Infertility affects over 10% of couples, and half of infertility cases involve male infertility. Male infertility can occur when sperm quality is low. There may be few sperm, the sperm may move abnormally, or there may be problems with the DNA (genetic material). 

Many couples with infertility use complementary medicine in addition to infertility treatments. Ginseng is a root-like stem which is used in traditional medicine. Studies have found that ginseng contains several molecules that are active in the body. Ginseng reduces inflammation and can prevent harmful chemical changes known as oxidation. It may also have an effect on steroid hormones including estrogen and testosterone. It is unclear whether ginseng improves sperm quality in men with infertility.

Methods & findings

This review analyzed the results of five trials on ginseng and sperm quality. Korean red ginseng, white ginseng, and mountain ginseng were used in the studies. They followed participants for between 10 days and 12 weeks.

Four of the studies included men with infertility. Two of them found that ginseng improved sperm quality compared to a placebo (inactive pill). The number of sperm increased, as did how many appeared normal under a microscope. One of the studies also found that more sperm moved normally. However, there were also two observational studies that asked men with infertility about their use of ginseng. They found that men who use ginseng do not have better sperm quality than men who do not use ginseng.

Several studies also looked at healthy volunteers. One study found that ginseng improved the sperm quality of healthy volunteers. However, another trial found that ginseng did not improve sperm quality when compared to placebo.

Three of the studies reported side effects. Two studies found that there were no side effects from ginseng. One study found that men who took ginseng experienced headaches and stomach upset.

Methods & findings
The bottom line

This study found ginseng may improve sperm quality. However, there were few studies and they have had mixed results.

The fine print

All of the studies had a small number of participants (between 14 and 80). Also, a risk assessment found that three of the studies had a high potential for bias (overly favorable results). More studies are needed.

What’s next?

Discuss your use of herbs and complementary medicines with your healthcare provider.

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Published By: The world journal of men’s health
Date: Nov 11, 2020
Original Title: Ginseng for Improving Semen Quality Parameters: A Systematic Review.

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