Aphrodisiacs are required to improve male sexual function under stressful conditions. Due to the effects of oxidative stress and dopamine on male sexual function, we hypothesized that Moringa oleifera leaves might improve male sexual dysfunction induced by stress. Therefore, the effects on various factors playing important roles in male sexual behavior, such as antioxidant effects, the suppression of monoamine and phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE-5) activities, serum testosterone and corticosterone levels, and histomorphological changes in the testes, of a hydroethanolic extract of M. oleifera leaves were investigated. Various doses of extract including 10, 50, and 250 mg/kg body weight (BW) were given orally to male Wistar rats before exposure to 12 h-immobilization stress for 7 d. The results demonstrated that the extract showed both antioxidant and monoamine oxidase type B (MAO-B) suppression activities. At 7 d of treatment, the low dose of extract improved sexual performance in stress-exposed rats by decreasing intromission latency and increasing intromission frequency. It also suppressed PDE-5 activity, decreased serum corticosterone level, but increased serum testosterone, numbers of interstitial cells of Leydig and spermatozoa. The increased numbers of interstitial cells of Leydig and spermatozoa might have been due to the antioxidant effect of the extract. The increased sexual performance during the intromission phase might have been due to the suppression of MAO-B and PDE-5 activities and increased testosterone. Therefore, M. oleifera is a potential aphrodisiac, but further research concerning the precise underlying mechanisms is still needed.
Keywords: Moringa oleifera; Sexual behaviors; Stress.