BACKGROUND: Female sexual dysfunction (FSD) includes female orgasmic disorder, female sexual interest or arousal disorder, and genito-pelvic pain or penetration disorder. FSD affects 40% of women worldwide, but it is understudied and likely undertreated. Natural products are frequently used by women to treat FSD, but scientific evidence of their efficacy is lacking.
OBJECTIVE: This systematic review and meta-analysis focused on the study of the efficacy of natural products on FSD.
STUDY DESIGN: Systematic review and meta-analysis of existing studies on natural products in the treatment of FSD.
METHODS: The literature search included MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trial databases for studies published from January 2000 to February 2020. The quality and the level of evidence of the studies were assessed. The association between natural products and FSD was summarized using standardized mean differences (SMD) with a 95% confidence interval (CI).
RESULTS: A total of 536 studies were identified, with 20 of them meeting the criteria. According to this meta-analysis, Tribulus terrestris showed a significant positive effect in improving overall female sexual function (SMD = 1.12, 95% CI = 0.46 - 1.79, p = 0.001) and individual sexual arousal (SMD = 1.03, 95% CI = 0.22 - 1.84, p = 0.013), sexual desire (SMD = 1.08, 95% CI = 0.52 - 1.63, p ≤ 0.001) and sexual orgasm (SMD = 0.51, 95% CI = 0.02 - 1.00, p = 0.040) domains compared to placebo. Panax ginseng was found to be effective in treating sexual arousal (SMD = 0.54, 95% CI = 0.11 - 0.97, p = 0.014) and sexual desire (SMD = 0.59, 95% CI = 0.27 - 0.90, p < 0.001) compared to placebo. Meanwhile, other natural products reviewed in this study, such as Trifolium pretense, did not differ significantly from placebo in terms of improving FSD.
CONCLUSION: Preliminary evidence suggests that Tribulus terrestris and Panax ginseng may be effective as alternative treatments for FSD in a clinical setting.
- Biological Products/pharmacology
- Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological/therapy