Fenugreek Extract Shown to Improve Sexual Functioning in Both Men and Women
The age-related decrease in testosterone seen in aging males is commonly referred to as “andropause” and can result in negative effects on sexual function, vitality, physical function, cognitive function, anemia, bone density, and cardiovascular status. With an increasingly aging population, finding a potential solution to health issues that arise during andropause could have significant benefits for many men.
Fenugreek is cultivated worldwide and has been used for centuries as a food staple. It is featured prominently in many dishes from the Indian subcontinent. New research led by Amanda Rao of the University of Sydney (Australia) has determined that daily supplements of a standardized extract of fenugreek, Trigonella foenum-graecum, may boost testosterone levels and reduce symptoms of andropause in healthy aging men.
Results of the double-blind randomised placebo-controlled trial were published in Aging Male. The study randomly assigned 120 healthy men between 43 and 70 years of age to receive either 600 mg per day of the extract or placebo for 12 weeks. The primary outcome measure was change in the Aging Male Symptom questionnaire (AMS), a measure of possible androgen deficiency symptoms (including libido, sexual frequency and ability to perform, morning erections, general fatigue, muscle weakness, and mood). Secondary outcome measures were sexual function and serum testosterone levels. The researchers found a significant decrease in the AMS score (specifically, in the somatic and sexual function domains) in the men receiving the extract at the end of the 12 week study period along with improvements in sexual function including number of morning erections and frequency of sexual activity. Both total serum and free testosterone levels had increased in the active study group.
While the mechanism of the increase in testosterone levels is unclear from the current study, possibilities include increased testicular sensitivity to luteinizing hormone, stimulation of pulsatile gonadotropin-releasing hormone, increased testosterone synthesis or reduced testosterone catabolism.
A related randomised controlled trial, results of which were published in 2015 in the journal, Phytotherapy Research, demonstrated that this same fenugreek extract (Trigonella foenum-graecum) had positive effects in enhancing sexual function in healthy women aged 20-49 with self-reported low sexual drive. Compared to a placebo group, women receiving the extract showed significant increases in estradiol and free testosterone, as well as increased sexual desire and arousal. Together, the studies provide evidence that fenugreek extract is a promising botanical agent for hormonal support in both men and women.
Rao A, Steels E, Beccaria G, Inder WJ, Vitetta L. Influence of a specialized Trigonella foenum-graecum seed extract (Libifem) on testosterone, estradiol and sexual function in healthy menstruating women, a randomized placebo controlled study. Phytotherapy Research 2015; Aug; 29(8):1123-30.
Rao A, Steels E, Inder WJ, Abrahams S, Vitetta L. Testofen, a specialized Trigonella foenum-graecum seed extract reduces age-related symptoms of androgen decrease, increases testosterone levels and improves sexual function in healthy aging males in a double-blind randomised clinical study. Aging Male 2016; Jan 20:1-9.