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Maca Root for Men: Sexual Benefits Explained

Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Reviewed by Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Written by Rachel Sacks

Published 05/28/2023

Updated 04/14/2024

Maca root for men — are there any positive effects on sexual health? Here’s what you should know.

A Peruvian plant that grows in the highlands of the Andes mountains, maca root has been used for its medicinal properties for thousands of years. Also known as Lepidium meyenii, maca root is a cruciferous vegetable, meaning it’s related to cabbage, watercress and broccoli.

Though maca comes in different colors, yellow, red and black maca are the most common, with yellow maca roots being preferred due to their sweetness and wide variety of health benefits. Over the last few years, maca root powder and maca root capsules have grown in popularity for their potential benefits and medicinal properties.

Maca root claims to have beneficial effects on well-being and sexual performance, including increased sex drive and reduced sexual dysfunction, according to the Peruvian populations that have used it for centuries.

But what’s the real story behind maca root benefits? We’ll explain whether there are sexual benefits of maca root for men, debunk common myths about maca powder and maca extract and go over potential adverse effects.

Maca root is rich in a number of nutrients, such as fiber, essential amino acids, fatty acids, vitamin C, calcium and several bioactive compounds that may support its medicinal properties.

But can extracts of maca or maca root powder increase sex drive? Could the effects of maca root improve sexual dysfunction like erectile dysfunction (ED) or premature ejaculation?

Keep reading to learn about the health benefits of maca root for men.

Increases Libido

Is maca libido a thing? Some evidence suggests that increased libido is one potential benefit of maca for men.

A 2010 review of the effects of Lepidium meyenii on sexual function found evidence from four high-quality studies with a total of 131 participants that maca root improved sexual desire after at least six weeks.

However, the studies included in the review were small, and the evidence was too limited to draw firm conclusions, according to the researchers.

Although promising, current research is unclear whether maca root libido is true or if maca root powder increases sex drive.

Reduces Sexual Dysfunction

Maca root could improve sexual function — specifically, the effects of maca might help those with erectile dysfunction, one of the most common types of sexual dysfunction.

The above review also looked at evidence from one randomized controlled study and found that the effectiveness of maca in those with mild erectile dysfunction was greater than a placebo.

That said, this study was too small to draw a conclusive result about the effectiveness of maca for erectile dysfunction or other types of sexual dysfunction.

Improves Fertility

Some studies seem to suggest that taking maca for fertility could be beneficial and may improve sexual health — namely, sperm quality and sperm concentration — in men.

One very small study of 20 men found that maca extracts as a dietary supplement improved sperm count as well as sperm motility over three months. However, this study was extremely small.

Similarly, a 2022 review of five studies on the effects of sperm motility and sperm count found mixed results on the effectiveness of maca for sperm motility and count. More research is needed to determine if maca root fertility is legitimate in its claims.

Benefits Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)

Benign prostatic hyperplasia is when the prostate (a walnut-shaped gland that’s important for reproductive health) is enlarged. BPH can affect sexual function, potentially leading to erectile dysfunction, reduced sexual satisfaction and low sex drive.

Animal studies suggest that extract of maca root may help reduce prostate size. However, more research is needed to know how maca root affects BPH in humans.

Boosts Energy

One of the most common maca powder benefits is that maca root can improve energy levels.

A 2016 study of 175 people found that 3 grams of red or black maca per day for 12 weeks increased energy levels when compared with a placebo.

An animal study on the effects of the maca in mice found similar results — specifically that the extracts of maca had improved metabolism.

While this research is promising, larger studies are needed to see if maca root powder or extracts of maca as a supplement increase energy.

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What other sexual benefits of maca root for men are true? Can extracts of maca improve testicular function and increase serum testosterone levels? Does maca coffee increase the size of your erection?

While there are claims that maca root powder or extract of maca can improve sexual function — such as increasing reproductive hormone levels or maca for testosterone — research behind these claims is limited, and the results of studies have been mixed.

Choose your chew

Studies have shown that maca doesn’t have adverse effects and is generally safe for use.

One study of 175 people found that a 3-gram dose of red or black maca per day for three months was well tolerated with no serious side effects.

Maca root side effects aren’t common, but some have experienced mild headaches or stomach issues.

Maca root is often ground up into maca root powder to be added to food for an earthy flavor. Some people may add maca powder to coffee for an energy boost. Extract of maca is also often sold in supplement form as maca pills.

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A plant that grows in the Peruvian highlands among other high-altitude areas, maca root has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties. There are claims that maca root for men reduces sexual dysfunction and improves fertility while potentially decreasing prostate size and boosting energy.

Though smaller studies show promising effects on men’s sexual behavior, results are mixed, and more research is needed to understand the effects of maca.

Currently, the most effective, scientifically proven treatments for sexual dysfunction are erectile dysfunction medications and premature ejaculation treatments. The most common ED treatments are oral medications, such as sildenafil (Viagra®), vardenafil (Levitra®), avanafil (Stendra®) and tadalafil (Cialis®).

If you’re concerned about fertility and reproductive health or your testosterone levels, read up on how to naturally increase testosterone or learn more about foods that boost testosterone levels.

You can also book an appointment with a healthcare provider to explore the cause of low sex drive or testosterone and find the right treatment for you.

12 Sources

  1. Gonzales, G. F. (2011). Ethnobiology and Ethnopharmacology of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a Plant from the Peruvian Highlands. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : ECAM, 2012. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3184420/
  2. Bower-Cargill, C., Yarandi, N., & Petróczi, A. (2022). A systematic review of the versatile effects of the Peruvian Maca Root (Lepidium meyenii ) on sexual dysfunction, menopausal symptoms and related conditions. Phytomedicine Plus, 2(4), 100326. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2667031322001075
  3. da Silva Leitão Peres, N., Cabrera Parra Bortoluzzi, L., Medeiros Marques, L. L., Formigoni, M., Fuchs, R. H. B., Droval, A. A., Reitz Cardoso, F. A. (2020, January 17). Medicinal effects of Peruvian maca (Lepidium meyenii): a review. Food & function, 11(1), 83-92. Retrieved from https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlehtml/2020/fo/c9fo02732g
  4. Shin, C., Lee, M. S., Yang, E. J., Lim, S., & Ernst, E. (2009). Maca (L. meyenii) for improving sexual function: A systematic review. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 10, 44. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2928177/
  5. Melnikovova, I., Fait, T., Kolarova, M., Fernandez, E. C., & Milella, L. (2015). Effect of Lepidium meyenii Walp. on Semen Parameters and Serum Hormone Levels in Healthy Adult Men: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Pilot Study. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2015, 324369. Retrieved from https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2015/324369/
  6. Lee, H.W., Lee, M.S., Qu, F., Lee, J-W., Kim, E. (2022). Maca (Lepidium meyenii Walp.) on semen quality parameters: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Front. Pharmacol. 13:934740. Retrieved from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2022.934740/full
  7. Prostate Enlargement (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia) - NIDDK. (n.d.). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/prostate-problems/prostate-enlargement-benign-prostatic-hyperplasia
  8. Bruskewitz, R. C. (2003). Quality of Life and Sexual Function in Patients with Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia. Reviews in Urology, 5(2), 72-80. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1473005/
  9. Fano, D., Vásquez-Velásquez, C., Gonzales-Castañeda, C., Guajardo-Correa, E., Orihuela, P. A., & Gonzales, G. F. (2017, December 11). N-Butanol and Aqueous Fractions of Red Maca Methanolic Extract Exerts Opposite Effects on Androgen and Oestrogens Receptors (Alpha and Beta) in Rats with Testosterone-Induced Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Retrieved from https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2017/9124240/
  10. Gonzales-Arimborgo, C., Yupanqui, I., Montero, E., Alarcón-Yaquetto, D. E., Zevallos-Concha, A., Caballero, L., Gasco, M., Zhao, J., Khan, I. A., & Gonzales, G. F. (2016). Acceptability, Safety, and Efficacy of Oral Administration of Extracts of Black or Red Maca (Lepidium meyenii) in Adult Human Subjects: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Pharmaceuticals, 9(3). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5039502/
  11. Fei, W., Hou, Y., Yue, N. et al. (2020). The effects of aqueous extract of Maca on energy metabolism and immunoregulation. Eur J Med Res 25, 24. Retrieved from https://eurjmedres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40001-020-00420-7
  12. Maca - LiverTox. (2019, April 10). NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK548552/
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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