Review article| Volume 92, P64-69, October 2016

The use of maca (Lepidium meyenii) to improve semen quality: A systematic review

  • Author Footnotes
    1 These authors contributed equally.
    Myeong Soo Lee
    Corresponding author at: Clinical Research Division, Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine, Daejeon, 34054, Republic of Korea.
    1 These authors contributed equally.
    Clinical Research Division, Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine, Daejeon, Republic of Korea
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  • Author Footnotes
    1 These authors contributed equally.
    Hye Won Lee
    1 These authors contributed equally.
    KM Convergence Research Division, Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine, Daejeon, Republic of Korea
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  • Sooseong You
    KM Fundamental Research Division, Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine, Daejeon, Republic of Korea
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  • Ki-Tae Ha
    School of Korean Medicine, Pusan National University, Yangsan, Republic of Korea
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  • Author Footnotes
    1 These authors contributed equally.


      • Maca (Lepidium meyenii) has been used as a food supplement and as a medicine for humans and animals to improve sexual function and fertility.
      • Three randomized clinical trials and two uncontrolled observational studies met our inclusion criteria for this systematic review.
      • The review provides suggestive evidence for the effectiveness of maca in improving semen quality.


      The aim of this review was to assess the evidence for the effectiveness of maca (Lepidium meyenii) in improving semen quality. We searched 11 databases from their inception to March 2016 and included all clinical trials on the improvement of semen quality parameters in infertile and healthy men, regardless of the study design or the type of maca. The risk of bias for each study was assessed using the Cochrane criteria. The selection of studies, data extraction, and validation were performed independently by the first two authors. Discrepancies were resolved through discussion by the same two authors. Five studies – 3 randomized clinical trials (RCTs) and 2 uncontrolled observational studies (UOSs) – met all of the inclusion criteria. One RCT found favorable effects of maca on sperm mobility in infertile men. The two other RCTs showed positive effects of maca on several semen quality parameters in healthy men. The two UOSs also suggested favorable effects of maca on semen quality. The results of our systematic review provide suggestive evidence for the effectiveness of maca in improving semen quality. However, the total number of trials, the total sample size, and the risk of bias of the included studies prevent the drawing firm conclusions. More rigorous studies are warranted.


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