Maca Root for Women’s Fertility: Increase Your Chances
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So you decided to make the most of your 20s and hold off on what most of your friends were doing fresh out of high school or college: having a family. Maybe you didn’t feel you were ready or you just never met the right partner. Whatever your reasons, you are ready now. However, are you trying to conceive but having no success? Or are you just looking for a natural way to boost your chances?
Unfortunately, as a woman over 35, it is harder to become pregnant. A study documented in the journal Human Reproduction on May 2002 shows a correlation between age and fertility. In fact your fertility starts to drop at around 27-30 and exponentially decreases after 35. This is not meant to discourage you as these are just numbers. Every woman is different with a different set of circumstances. But if you are having difficulty becoming pregnant, there are natural ways that will help.
Say hello to maca!
Maca root for woman’s fertility has been used for thousands of years in South America. It is a natural, proven food that does actually increase fertility in woman (and men) among other things. Never heard of it before? Well, I’m here to show you how maca root benefits woman and increases your fertility naturally.
So What Is Maca?
Although primarily used in America as a medicinal herb, maca is actually a food. Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is a root of the Brassicaceae (or Cruciferae) family which also includes broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, bok choy, radish, kale, wasabi, and other similar leafy green vegetables.
It is originally from South America in the Andes Mountains of Peru and has been used by the Peruvians for over three thousand years. This root was valued so much by the ancient Peruvians that it was used as a form of currency. During the Incan civilization, their warriors were known to ingest large amounts of maca root before heading into battle to boost their stamina and strength. Talk about hardcore!
Maca root typically comes in the form of a powder. It is usually categorized based on the color of its roots. The most common colors are yellow, red, and black. There is similar nutritional benefits between them but different colors are known to be used for specific reasons or medical conditions.
Maca powder is said to have a slightly nutty, earthly taste similar to butterscotch. You can easily add it to cereal, oatmeal, and other dishes but my personal favorite is smoothies.
My Personal Story with Maca
Maca holds a very special place in my heart.
I’ve been interested in alternative and holistic medicines for over 18 years. My journey on the road of holistic health began in 1999 with my job at a natural grocery store working the supplements and beauty section. It was really through exposure from my work that I began to see the growing number of people looking for alternatives to conventional medicines.
Ironically, I didn’t fully buy into using these natural medicines for curing diseases. Don’t get me wrong – I did think for overall wellness support and minor ailments these supplements and herbs did help. At best, for example, these things would help sunburn skin and reduce inflammation (aloe anyone?), or supplement a diet for anemia.
But cure diseases? The jury was still out on that one.
Years later while I was living in Austin, Texas, I got a job at a restaurant dedicated to using only whole ingredients and super foods. Some of these foods I’d never heard of before. Of course, among them was maca powder.
I decided to look up information on maca to see if there was any evidence to back the claims being made. I was surprised by the nutritional content of maca alone but discovered the benefits to libido and mood-boosting. Heck yeah, sign me up! So I started putting maca in my drinks on a pretty regular basis.
At 38 years old, I decided I was finally ready to have my first child. My husband and I were prepared for it to take a year at least but, within a month, my baby girl was conceived. I was shocked! Sure, I was healthy and in good shape but numerous woman who worked in the same company as me were coming up pregnant too. And many of them were in their early to late 30s as well. The only commonality we all had was that we were all eating maca. I was completely convinced that beautiful root had something to do with it.
Any lingering doubts about the legitimacy of food used as medicine after that, were gone.
Maca Root Benefits for Women’s Fertility
Cruciferous vegetables are well-known to be high in vitamins, minerals, soluble fiber, and phytochemicals. Maca is no different. Maca root powder contains protein, fiber and several vitamins and minerals, including high amounts of vitamin C, copper and iron. This amazing vegetable also contains over 20 amino acids (all eight essential amino acids number among them), not to mention over 60 different health-promoting phytonutrients as well as plant compounds like glucosinolates and polyphenols.
Overall dietary deficiency has been linked with infertility. According to US Nurses’ Health Study, it has shown increased risk of ovulatory dysfunction associated with many dietary factors, including protein intake, dietary fats, carbohydrates, alcohol, caffeine, and dairy (1).
And even if dietary deficiency isn’t your problem, the extra nutrients can’t hurt and, in fact, are shown to increase your chances of conception!
- Maca improves circulation.
Maca root has been shown to improve blood circulation which reduces anemia and improves wound healing time (2). But what this also means is that it may help to regulate your cycles and improve ovulation. Also, blood rich in oxygen is essential to good egg health. And without healthy eggs, your chances of conceiving and having a healthy pregnancy are low.
- It improves egg quality.
It was believed until very recently that, as a woman, you were born with the eggs that you would have for the rest of your life. A study done in 2012 proved that to be a false concept when they found stem cells in the ovaries that produced new egg cells (3). Healthy eggs are one of the foundations to healthy fertility. Without healthy eggs, a woman will have difficulty with fertilization, implantation, and a viable pregnancy. Safeguarding the eggs that you have and as well as improve ovarian health through diet, supplementation, and good circulation to the reproductive organs is of the utmost importance especially for older woman as the quality of where you “house” the eggs (your uterus) does diminish with age.
- Maca balances hormones.
Maca has been proven to affect the hormonal processes along the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Ovarian axis which controls reproduction, aging, and development. In essence the HPO axis is your endocrine system. Studies have shown that maca supports and balances the production of estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone but is not in itself a hormone or contains any hormones. One study conducted on post-menopausal woman found that maca acted as a “toner of hormonal processes” along the HPO axis, balanced hormones, and relieved symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats (4).
As a result, maca may normalize menstrual cycles through balancing out your endocrine system and improving circulation.
As stated previously, the Incan warriors would ingest large amounts of maca before going into battle. Later when the Spanish arrived they too quickly learned of the energy boosting effects of maca and chronicled these in their conquest of the Andes in 1553. But if thousands of years of use from the Peruvians and about 500 years from the Spaniards isn’t enough to convince you, there’s scientific backing. One study done in the UK in 2009 exhibited promising results that maca does augment physical performance and endurance on male athletes (5).
- It boosts libido.
Maca root has shown aphrodisiac qualities in many of the studies already mentioned. Through balancing hormones, raising energy levels, and sending blood to the pelvic region, maca has been shown to increase libido in both men and woman. One study done on woman with sexual dysfunction induced by antidepressants showed that maca root significantly improved libido (6). Another study showed that maca increased sexual desire in healthy men ranging from 21-56 in age by the 8th week of treatment (7).
- Maca increases sperm count in men.
There has been some promising work done on the effects of maca on semen production. One small study showed an increase sperm production and motility after 4 months of treatment in men between 22-44 years of age (8).
So don’t just keep the stuff to yourself ladies!
Using Maca for Fertility
So there you have it! Maca has many benefits for woman. This superfood can support overall sexual health and function through its high-nutrient content; ability to increase libido and energy; improvement of blood circulation and egg quality; and balancing effect on your hormones.
On its own it can help you to become pregnant but, because it is completely natural, it can complement many other natural fertility programs as well.
If you chose to try maca powder as a fertility supplement you will need to slowly increase your dosage overtime. It is recommended to start with 1 teaspoon a day and work your way up to 3 teaspoons a day in total. And like all natural remedies, these things take time so give yourself at least 2-3 weeks (sometimes up to 30 days) before expecting to feel any effects. It is also recommended to buy the gelantized maca if you have a sensitive stomach as some report the raw stuff making them feel sick. There are also claims that color makes a difference: red for woman and black for men.
However, if you do become pregnant, it is not recommended to continue taking maca during pregnancy or while nursing.
Woof! That got a bit long.
If you are looking for a way to add maca to other foods, I have some great smoothie recipes here!
I hope that this has shed some light on what a great food maca really is. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below and I will be happy to get back to you!