Introduction: Many menopausal women experience climacteric symptoms including impairment of sexual function. Recent reports have suggested that Korean red ginseng (KRG) has a relaxing effect on the clitoral cavernosal muscle and vaginal smooth muscle in rats.
Aim: We assessed whether KRG extracts would improve sexual function in menopausal women.
Methods: Thirty-two menopausal women participated in a placebo-controlled, double-blind, crossover clinical study with administration of either three capsules of ginseng (1 g per capsule) or placebo daily. After completing the KRG or placebo arm, the participants were crossed over to the other arm after a 2-week washout period. The efficacy and safety of the KRG extracts were measured by using questionnaires.
Main outcome measures: Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) and Global Assessment Questionnaire (GAQ).
Results: Twenty-eight women completed the study. They were, on average, 51.2 + or - 4.1 years old, and their mean menopausal state was for a duration of 37.4 + or - 2.9 months. Few carryover effects were noted in either study arm. The ginseng extract significantly improved scores on the FSFI from 3.10 + or - 0.87 to 3.50 + or - 0.72 in the sexual arousal domain (P = 0.006). The GAQ was more significantly affected by ginseng extracts than by placebo (P = 0.046). There were no severe adverse events in the KRG group, although two cases of vaginal bleeding occurred during KRG treatment.
Conclusions: Oral administration of KRG extracts improved sexual arousal in menopausal women. Red ginseng extracts might be used as an alternative medicine in menopausal women to improve their sexual life.