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Ginkgo Biloba for Sexual Dysfunction: Benefits, Risks & More

Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Reviewed by Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Written by Geoffrey C. Whittaker

Published 02/22/2024

Updated 04/18/2024

You may have heard of the natural male enhancement and sexual dysfunction treatments horny goat weed and ginseng. But perhaps the most commonly talked about herbal remedy for male sexual dysfunction is Ginkgo biloba.

Ginkgo biloba has some impressive anecdotal research to support its use for sexual dysfunction. But when you look at the big picture, this natural supplement may not be the first thing to try when treating erectile dysfunction (ED). 

Below, we’ll explain what Ginkgo biloba is, what its promoters claim it can do for sexual dysfunction and why you might want to be careful in weighing supposed benefits against potential risks.

Ginkgo biloba is one of the oldest trees in the world. The extract of Ginkgo biloba is frequently used in Chinese medicine to improve cognitive function, asthma, bladder disorders and bronchitis.

It’s seen as an antioxidant packed with flavonoids that offer numerous health benefits, from blood circulation to sexual arousal.

In modern times, Ginkgo extract (which is taken from the leaves of the tree) has been billed as a supplement that can help with things like:

  • Vertigo and altitude sickness

  • Glaucoma and macular degeneration (age-related blurred vision)

  • Tinnitus

  • Vitiligo (patchy loss of skin pigment)

  • Cardiovascular disease

  • Dementia and cognitive impairment

There’s also a body of research suggesting that Ginkgo may help men and women with certain types of sexual dysfunction.

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Some research suggests that long-term use of Ginkgo biloba extract can provide sexual benefits for men, such as increased sexual desire (libido) and satisfaction. However, these positive changes may require additional treatment methods, like sex therapy.

The claims about the benefits of Ginkgo biloba for men are impressive on paper. But it’s worth taking a closer look at the science before using the herbal supplement to treat ED.

Potential Libido Boost

One of the biggest claims focuses on the Ginkgo biloba libido benefits people can experience.

A study looked at using Ginkgo biloba extract to treat antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction. This type of ED is caused by taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are used to treat depression and anxiety.

The results found that Ginkgo biloba extract may help, though it was actually found to be more effective in helping women on antidepressant medication than men.

Increased Blood Flow

More research has shown that Ginkgo can boost levels of nitric oxide in the blood, which improves peripheral blood flow (from the heart to the extremities, like your arms, hands, legs and — yes — penis).

Normally, when you get an erection, your brain sends a signal to the blood vessels in your penis, telling them to open so blood flow can increase. As this happens, the blood gets trapped in two chambers inside the penis called the corpora cavernosa. 

When something interferes with this process, and you can’t get or maintain an erection firm enough for sex, it’s considered ED.

While the research didn’t conclude that Ginkgo helps with ED, you could draw the conclusion that anything that increases blood flow could help with erectile issues. 

Still, some studies have questionable controls, and more research is definitely needed.

ED affects roughly 30 million American men. Research has found that more than 50 percent of men between 40 and 70 will experience erectile dysfunction at some time in their lives.

So if an over-the-counter supplement or extract could treat it safely and effectively, it would be an impressive win. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with Ginkgo biloba — at least not yet.

A major systematic review from 2021 of existing literature doubted that there was enough data to show that Ginkgo biloba offers more than limited benefits.

Choose your chew

As you can see, Ginkgo biloba for ED isn’t a surefire solution. The good news is it’s fairly safe to try. If you do decide to take this supplement, you’ll want to study up on the right Ginkgo biloba erectile dysfunction dose.

Ginkgo Biloba Supplement Forms and Dosage

You can buy Ginkgo biloba online and from supplement stores in the form of tablets, capsules or a liquid extract. The leaves can also be dried to make tea.

The first thing you can do to figure out the right dosage to improve sexual function is to look at the label of the Ginkgo biloba extract you’re taking. There should be instructions on how much to take.

In the study on taking Ginkgo to help with antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction, those who found it effective took 60 to 120 milligrams daily.

When in doubt, talk to a healthcare provider to determine the best Ginkgo dosage for sexual function.

If you decide to take a Ginkgo biloba erectile dysfunction dose, it’s important to understand the potential risks first.

Ginkgo Biloba Side Effects

Potential adverse effects of Ginkgo biloba include headaches, blood pressure changes, constipation, upset stomach, nausea, diarrhea and heart palpitations.

Some people may experience skin rashes or allergic reactions, but this is rare.

Ginkgo Biloba Drug Interactions

Ginkgo biloba can react poorly with anticoagulants (blood thinners). It may also cause an increased risk of bleeding and lower blood pressure. So medications used to treat ED, reduce blood pressure or thin the blood should be avoided if you plan to take this supplement.

Ginkgo biloba can also increase the risk of serotonin syndrome in people using MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors, a type of antidepressant).

Before taking any new supplement, you should consult a healthcare professional. One of the biggest risks that come with taking a new medication (over-the-counter or prescription) is that it could interact negatively with something else you’re taking.

How long does it take Ginkgo biloba to work? Is it safe to take Ginkgo biloba every day? Unfortunately, the answers to these questions will require more research.

If you’re looking to make the most of some Ginkgo biloba pill benefits in the bedroom, it’s a good idea to speak with a healthcare provider and get their feedback. They may adjust your dosage or warn you off Ginkgo biloba altogether based on your unique medical history.

While there are no clinical trials proving the efficacy of Ginkgo biloba for ED, a number of other medications are scientifically proven to help with the various types of ED — including antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction.

Understanding the available treatment options for ED will hopefully help you realize there are multiple ways to get back to normal sexual activity.

Sildenafil 

Viagra® is the most commonly prescribed treatment for ED, along with the generic version, sildenafil. It’s in a class of medications called phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors (PDE5 inhibitors).

These types of medication work by relaxing the muscles in the penis, which boosts blood flow to the penis during sexual activity.

Sildenafil works quickly. People usually notice positive effects within 30 minutes of taking it — and it can last up to four hours.

Tadalafil

Tadalafil, along with the brand name Cialis®, is also commonly used to treat ED during sexual encounters. Like sildenafil, it’s a PDE5 inhibitor.

This medication can last up to 36 hours — a fact that earned it the reputation for being the “weekend” ED medication.

Vardenafil 

Levitra® and generic vardenafil are prescription medications for ED that work within 30 to 60 minutes of taking them. The effects last about five hours, which should cover your plans for sexual activity.

There’s research to back up the effects of vardenafil. In a clinical trial, 75 percent of men said they got an erection good enough for sex after taking a 10-milligram dose. What’s more, 80 percent said it worked after taking a 20-milligram dose.

Avanafil 

Also known by the brand name Stendra®, avanafil is one of the newer ED prescription medications. It’s also a PDE5 inhibitor.

Many gravitate toward avanafil because it works 15 minutes after you take it. Plus, fewer side effects are associated with the medication.

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From horny goat weed to ginseng, there are lots of alternative treatments for ED. But perhaps none is more talked about than Ginkgo biloba for the treatment of erectile dysfunction.

Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Because the Ginkgo biloba tree originated in China, Ginkgo is commonly used in Chinese medicine. But it’s also used more widely in extract form, which has become a popular over-the-counter supplement.

  • Some research suggests Ginkgo biloba could help with antidepressant-induced erectile dysfunction, specifically from SSRIs.

  • More research needs to be done to conclude whether Ginkgo can be effective in the treatment of erectile dysfunction.

Before taking any new medication or supplement, it’s essential to check in with a healthcare provider. You want to ensure it won’t interact with medications (like an antidepressant treatment) or medical conditions you have (such as high blood pressure).

If you’re dealing with any type of sexual dysfunction — whether it’s ED, premature ejaculation (PE) or something else — it can really impact your life.

Having unsatisfactory sexual responses can hurt your confidence and your relationships. To figure out what’s going on and get to a place where you’re no longer struggling with sexual difficulty, schedule an online consultation with a healthcare provider or a professional specializing in sex therapy.

13 Sources

  1. Ginkgo. National Center of Complementary and Integrative Health. Retrieved from https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/Ginkgo
  2. Definition & facts for erectile dysfunction. (July 2017). Retrieved from https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/Ginkgohttps://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/definition-facts
  3. Yafi, F.A., et al. (2017). Erectile dysfunction. Nat rev dis primers, 2: 16003. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5027992/
  4. Erection Ejaculaton: How it Occurs (2020). Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/10036-erection-ejaculation-how-it-occurs
  5. Cohen, A., Bartlik, B., (1998). Ginkgo biloba for antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction. J Sex Marital Ther. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9611693/
  6. Wu, Y., Li, S., Zu, X., et al., (2008). Ginkgo biloba extract improves coronary artery circulation in patients with coronary artery disease: contribution of plasma nitric oxide and endothelin-1. Phytother Re. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18446847/
  7. Sildenafil (2018). Medline Plus. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a699015.html
  8. Tadalafil (2016). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a604008.html
  9. Smith BP, Babos M. Sildenafil. [Updated 2020 Jun 25]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK558978/
  10. Food and Drug Administration. (2018). https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2018/021368s030lbl.pdf
  11. Food and Drug Administration. (2017). https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2017/021400s020lbl.pdf
  12. Food and Drug Administration (2007). https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2007/021400s010lbl.pdf
  13. Food and Drug Administration. (2018). https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2018/202276s018lbl.pdf
Editorial Standards

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Kelly Brown MD, MBA
Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Dr. Kelly Brown is a board certified Urologist and fellowship trained in Andrology. She is an accomplished men’s health expert with a robust background in healthcare innovation, clinical medicine, and academic research. Dr. Brown is a founding member of Posterity Health where she is Medical Director and leads strategy and design of their Digital Health Platform, an innovative education and telehealth model for delivering expert male fertility care.

She completed her undergraduate studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (go Heels!) with a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Science and a Minor in Chemistry. She took a position at University of California Los Angeles as a radiologic technologist in the department of Interventional Cardiology, further solidifying her passion for medicine. She also pursued the unique opportunity to lead departmental design and operational development at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, sparking her passion for the business of healthcare.

Dr. Brown then went on to obtain her doctorate in medicine from the prestigious Northwestern University - Feinberg School of Medicine and Masters in Business Administration from Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management, with a concentration in Healthcare Management. During her surgical residency in Urology at University of California San Francisco, she utilized her research year to focus on innovations in telemedicine and then served as chief resident with significant contributions to clinical quality improvement. Dr. Brown then completed her Andrology Fellowship at Medical College of Wisconsin, furthering her expertise in male fertility, microsurgery, and sexual function.

Her dedication to caring for patients with compassion, understanding, as well as a unique ability to make guys instantly comfortable discussing anything from sex to sperm makes her a renowned clinician. In addition, her passion for innovation in healthcare combined with her business acumen makes her a formidable leader in the field of men’s health.

Dr. Brown is an avid adventurer; summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (twice!) and hiking the incredible Torres del Paine Trek in Patagonia, Chile. She deeply appreciates new challenges and diverse cultures on her travels. She lives in Denver with her husband, two children, and beloved Bernese Mountain Dog. You can find Dr. Brown on LinkedIn for more information.

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