This study included 45 women with ages 18-65 and a mean age of 41.5 years, who were in remission from their depression but who suffered from antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction (AISD). Patients received either 1500 mg Maca root or placebo twice daily for 12 weeks. Sexual function was evaluated using common research questionnaires and scales.
These women met the criteria for depression/anxiety and were in remission. These were patients on current and stable doses of venlafaxine or a tri-heterocyclic antidepressant for depression for at least 4 weeks. They also had clinically significant arousal dysfunction or orgasmic dysfunction of 4 weeks or less and the onset of these symptoms had to coincide with the subsequent use of their anti-depressant. In addition, they participated in regular sexual activity at least twice monthly prior to anti-depressant use and needed to be open to continued sexual activity at least once weekly during the study.
The main goal of the study was to see if there were improvements in sexual function using the questionnaires and scales to evaluate.
The mean change in questionnaires and scales for Maca vs. placebo was not statistically significant overall, whether premenopausal or postmenopausal women. The remission rates however were higher for the Maca group than the placebo group for those who had started with less severe sexual dysfunction issues. The higher remission rates occurred in postmenopausal women and the premenopausal women had no significant difference in remission rates between treatment groups on both of the sexual function questionnaires.
It was only the postmenopausal women who were taking the Maca who had an improvement in orgasm compared with placebo and only premenopausal women taking the Maca who had an improvement in arousal disorder compared with placebo. On one questionnaire, there was also a significant correlation between the testosterone levels and reported sexual functioning with a trend toward a significant effect on the second evaluation scale. No other significant differences were seen in the other hormones that were tested, including estrogen.
Commentary: This is good news….. Maca root, in this dose of 1,500 mg twice daily may alleviate antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction specifically in postmenopausal women. It appears that the explanation for this, at least in part, is due to the Maca root altering testosterone levels.
Reference: Dording C, Schettler P, Dalton E, et al. A double-blind placebo-controlled trial of maca root as treatment for antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction in women. Evid Based Complment Altern Med 2015;Article ID 949036 9 pages