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Medicinal plants as potential male anti-infertility agents: a review

Les plantes médicinales dans le traitement de l’infertilité chez le mâle: mise au point


For millions of couples, the inability to have a child is a personal tragedy and a large proportion of childless people are confronted with social stigmatization (blame) and personal frustration. Formerly assigned to women, infertility of a couple is nowadays equitably distributed between the two sexes. Among the methods used to treat male infertility problems, medicinal plants have been used empirically as extracts, decoctions, fractions or semi-purified compounds. These herbal products are used in the treatment of a dysfunctioning of the libido, sexual asthenia, erection, and sperm disorders. Pharmacological activities of many of these plants have been shown in vitro using cells, in vivo (on laboratory animals) and human studies. For instance, extracts of Panax ginseng, Panax quinquefolius and Lepidium meyenii have shown positive effects on sexual desire; while extracts of Astragalus membranaceus, Asparagus racemous, Withania somnifera, Andrographis paniculata and Acanthopanax senticosus improved sperm parameters. Plants provide a treatment option that is affordable and available for infertile couples, and phytotherapy is an essential form of treatment in our health system. However, herbal products are still anarchically used in many regions and countries, and a great proportion of medicinal plants used traditionally to solve male reproductive disorders have not yet been scientifically evaluated. Therefore in this review, we have summarized most of the data dealing with the effects of plant extracts on mammalian reproductive functions.


Pour des millions de couples à travers le monde, l’incapacité d’avoir un enfant est vécue comme une tragédie personnelle. Une large proportion d’entre eux est confrontée à des stigmatisations sociales dont les conséquences sont multiples. Jadis attribuées à la femme, les causes de l’infertilité d’un couple sont pratiquement équitablement partagées par des facteurs liés aux deux sexes. Parmi les différentes méthodes de traitement de l’infertilité masculine figurent les plantes médicinales qui sont utilisées parfois empiriquement sous forme d’extraits, de fractions ou de composés partiellement purifiés dans le traitement des difficultés de libido, d’asthénie sexuelle, d’érection et d’anomalies des paramètres spermatiques. Ces différents aspects d’anomalies sont évoqués dans cette revue en relation avec les extraits de plantes utilisés pour les normaliser. Les propriétés de plusieurs de ces plantes ont été démontrées au niveau cellulaire, in vivo sur des animaux de laboratoire et chez l’homme. Par exemple, les extraits de Panax ginseng, de Panax quinquefolius et de Lepidium meyenii ont présenté un effet bénéfique sur la libido, tandis que ceux d’Astragalus membranaceus, d’Asparagus racemous, de Withania somnifera, d’Andrographis paniculata et d’Acanthopanax senticosus améliorent qualitativement et quantitativement les paramètres spermatiques. Les plantes fournissent ainsi un potentiel de traitements abordables et accessibles pour beaucoup de couples infertiles. Cependant, les plantes médicinales sont encore anarchiquement utilisées dans de nombreuses régions, et une large proportion d’entre elles traditionnellement utilisées pour résoudre les difficultés liées à la fertilité masculine n’a pas jusqu’à lors fait l’objet d’investigations scientifiques.


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Nantia, E.A., Moundipa, P.F., Monsees, T.K. et al. Medicinal plants as potential male anti-infertility agents: a review. Basic Clin. Androl. 19, 148–158 (2009).

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Keywords Male infertility

  • Medicinal plants
  • Libido
  • Sexual asthenia
  • Erection
  • Sperm

Mots clés

  • Infertilité mâle
  • Plantes médicinales
  • Libido
  • Asthénie sexuelle
  • Érection
  • Spermatozoïdes