Fertility enhancing drugs have been in great demand in the past 10 years owing to serious sexually-related disorders. Sexual dysfunction is a condition wherein an individual would not achieve normal sexual intercourse and would include the following: retrograded, inhibited, or retarded ejaculation, premature ejaculation, reduced libido, erectile dysfunction, compulsive sexual behaviour, and orgasmic disorder. The first pharmacological product for impotence and erectile dysfunction by the FDA was sildenafil (Viagra) in the early 90’s. The drug drew millions of people’s attention owing to its novel mechanism and advertising. There have been many such drugs in the market owing to uniqueness, novelty, and a hope for people with sexual dysfunction. However, most of the pharmacological drugs have been associated with adverse events and side-effects. The long-term effects of these drugs have not been studied or validated and hence the search of a natural and safe drug has been reciprocated by researchers and healthcare professionals (Kotta, S., Ansari, S. H., & Ali, J. 2013).
Researchers have focused on an aphrodisiac agent (drug or food) in order for an individual for sexual desire or arousal. Most of the current research has been focused on plant-derived substances or products due to their low-cost production and low-profile of side-effects. Many traditional medicine have been explored to assess the usefulness of herbs in reproductive disorders and infertility. Korean and Chinese traditional medicine (herbs) have shown promising effects for infertility related disorders among men and women. A meta-analysis comparing Chinese herbal medication for the improvement of pregnancy rates and treatment of infertility disorders have proven a 2-fold better outcome when compared with western medicine. Medicinal herbs is of utmost interest to recognize the importance in the improvement of infertility, pregnancy outcomes, and sexual dysfunction rates (Ried K and Stuart K. 2011 and Kotta, S., Ansari, S. H., & Ali, J. 2013).
The evaluation of herbs for infertility and pregnancy has been in progress worldwide since several decades owing to better efficacy and safety compared to conventional medicines. There are no standard guidelines, policies, protocols, or scientific statements on the use of herbs or traditional medicine for infertility and reproductive medicine. Researchers have been focusing on herbal medicine and its association with toxicity, efficacy, and potential side-effects across the globe among a multitude of ethnic groups. However, only a select few reviews, articles, and critical reviews have focused on the usefulness of herbal medicine in infertility. The papers published in various journal lack reproducibility and are known to mislead both scientific and general public on the potential impacts and uses of such herbs in the human body. Many researchers have also criticized that herbal medication may not have a viable impact on the society for the treatment of infertility since its long-terms effects are unclear and cannot be predicted due to lack of literature (Ried K and Stuart K. 2011).
On the contrary, many plants have been reviewed and found to have pharmacological activity. Researchers have been exploring and studying the effects and safety profile of such herbal medication on humans and in-vitro studies. It is of utmost importance to the scientific community to understand the clinical data, mechanism of action, drug interactions, safety profile, efficacy, and other potential factors associated with use of herbal medicine for infertility and sexual dysfunction. (Kotta, S., Ansari, S. H., & Ali, J. 2013).
This paper explores the literature on herbal medicine and its usefulness in the treatment of infertility, sexual dysfunction, and pregnancy. The paper also emphasizes on the important of generating vital information pertaining to herbal medicine and its close relation to western or conventional medicine. The paper would include a review on the use of botanicals and aphrodisiacs plant materials available for the treatment of infertility with respect to information obtained from non-clinical and clinical studies.
Kotta, S., Ansari, S. H., & Ali, J. (2013). Exploring scientifically proven herbal aphrodisiacs. Pharmacognosy Reviews, 7(13), 1–10. http://doi.org/10.4103/0973-7847.112832
Kotta, S., Ansari, S. H., & Ali, J. 2013Ried K, Stuart K. (2011). Efficacy of traditional Chinese herbal medicine in the management of female infertility: a systematic review. Complementary Therapies in Medicine 2011; 19(6): 319-331.