9 Ways Maca Benefits Women’s Health, Hormones, and Happiness

Published on December 21, 2022

By Kristen Boye BS, Natural Health

Kristen Boye

Kristen Boye is a natural health expert, writer, copywriter, and editor. Kristen was raised on an organic farm in British Columbia which inspired her life’s work. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Health, is a Certified Natural Foods Chef, co-owner of a medicinal herb farm, and is a natural foods and children’s health advocate. Kristen lives with her husband and two children on their medicinal herb farm in Western North Carolina.

Do you suffer from fatigue, mood swings, chronic stress, or hormonal ups and downs? Do you dread your period and worry about what your health may look like in 10 or 20 years?

Unfortunately, most women and other people with uteruses experience these hormonal concerns regularly. For the rest of this article, we will use the term “women” to refer to those born with a uterus.

Although biological women generally live longer than men, per the Centers for Disease Control, they are more likely to suffer from chronic disease.REF#176

However, the growing awareness about women’s health issues combined with easier access to information has empowered many to start taking a more proactive approach to their health.

This means making lifestyle changes like focusing on nutrition, sleep, movement, and the use of traditional herbs and supplements.

When it comes to an herb that has the potential to benefit whole health, maca root is (arguably) the reigning queen.

In this article, you’ll learn about the maca benefits for women and women’s health, including hormonal health, fertility, energy, menopause, bone health, mood, and more. Finally, you’ll learn how to vet a quality maca product.

What is Maca Root?

Maca root is a type of cruciferous vegetable native to the Andes mountains of Peru. Maca is also known as Lepidium meyenii or Peruvian ginseng. 

This adaptogenic root has been cultivated and used as food, currency, and medicine in the Andes mountains of Peru for approximately 2000 years.REF#11

Maca’s traditional preparations include use in soups and stews; as a fermented beverage; in jams, bread, and beer; as a coffee substitute, and in desserts.

These days, maca root is commonly consumed as a powder added to baked goods, smoothies, hot drinks, and more for nutritional purposes or taken in a capsule form.

9 Maca Benefits for Women & Women’s Health

Once considered more precious than gold, maca was traditionally used to promote fertility, help prevent anemia, and support menstruation, libido, and daily energy.* 

It was also traditionally used to support respiratory issues, rheumatism, and to enhance stamina.*

Its rich source of nutrients, including fiber, iodine, and vitamin C, helps support general well-being and made it a staple for generations living in the harsh conditions of the Andes.

Plus, maca is an adaptogen, which means it helps your body better adapt and respond to physical, mental, and emotional stress.*

Learn more about adaptogens: All About Adaptogens

Due to the growing awareness about maca’s health benefits for both women and men, demand has skyrocketed in the last decade.

This chain of events has led the scientific community to examine the efficacy of this ancient super-root.

#1: Maca May Help Support Fertility In Women*

Maca’s traditional use for fertility support is one of its best-known properties, and there is evidence that may support this.

Research published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology suggests that maca may support the production of luteinizing hormone (LH) in female rats.REF#177

While animal studies don’t necessarily translate to humans, the research is promising. Luteinizing hormone is secreted by the pituitary gland. This chickpea-size gland sits at the base of the brain and is essential for ovulation, menstruation, and other aspects of reproductive function. 

Scientists believe maca’s bioactive plant compounds, known as alkaloids, may benefit the ovaries via its effects on luteinizing hormone.

Maca’s alkaloids and other plant compounds have been shown effective in supporting hormonal health in women by promoting HPA (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal) and HPG (Hypophysis Pituitary Gonad) axis health. 

These axes are connected to the endocrine system and nervous systems. Therefore, when they function optimally, all the endocrine glands, nerves, and hormones can benefit.REF#41

The use of maca has been reported to support a variety of hormones during menopause, including follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), estradiol, progesterone, and adrenalcortotropic hormone.REF#41*

Maca also contains nutrients that can help support reproductive health, including iron, magnesium, zinc, amino acids, and essential fatty acids.*

Its adaptogenic properties help the body better adapt to stressful circumstances. Since chronic stress in women has been linked to fertility issues and other hormonal-related imbalances, maca may provide support in this regard.*REF#178

The takeaway: maca appears to provide fertility support for women by promoting hormonal balance, supporting stress response, and nourishing the female body.*

There is evidence that maca may be effective for supporting male fertility.* Learn all about it in: Top 7 Maca Benefits for Men.

#2: Maca May Support Women’s Hormonal Balance*

You just learned how maca may support fertility by nourishing the endocrine glands and promoting normal secretion of crucial fertility hormones.*

But what else does maca do for women’s hormones?

One of maca’s superpowers for hormonal health lies in its adaptogenic properties.

As an adaptogen, maca helps the body better adapt to various physical, emotional, and environmental stressors by protecting the adrenals from producing excess stress hormones, such as cortisol.*REF#19

This process has a positive downstream effect on the hormonal system, benefitting overall balance and well-being.*

Adaptogens like maca—and other herbs including American ginseng, Tulsi (aka: Holy Basil), and medicinal mushrooms—have been used throughout history in many traditional health practices.

As previously discussed, maca contains hormone-supportive nutrients such as essential fatty acids and iodine, a trace mineral necessary for healthy thyroid function.*REF#179

Thyroid hormone is important because not only does it have a direct correlation to reproductive health, it plays an integral role in nearly every bodily process, including overall hormonal balance, fertility, metabolism, menses and cellular processes.REF#180

#3: Maca’s Aphrodisiac Qualities May Support Libido and Sexual Desire in Women*

Did you know between 40-45% of women and 20-30% of men experience sexual dysfunction or loss of libido?REF#181

If you’re in that group, you’ve probably heard about maca’s claim to fame as an aphrodisiac. But does maca support female libido?*

Research suggests it may, although the exact mechanism of action is unclear. Here’s what we know:

  • Some researchers suggest the bioactive substances in maca, such as prostaglandins, sterols, and aromatic isothiocyanates, are responsible for its aphrodisiac properties.REF#179
  • Peruvian women and teens have used maca for generations for menstrual support.*
  • Maca’s support for the HPA/HPG axes (as previously mentioned) could positively impact overall hormonal health, including sex hormones.REF#41
  • Evidence published in The Journal of The North American Menopause Society shows maca can help enhance sexual desire in post-menopausal women by reducing feelings of anxiety and depression. However, the authors concluded this was unrelated to any changes in estrogenic and androgenic (sex hormone) activity.REF#39
  • Specific nutrients in maca previously mentioned, such as zinc, iodine (related to thyroid health), and essential fatty acids, have also been connected to a healthy sex drive.REF#42

There is evidence to support maca’s traditional use as an aphrodisiac in women, but more research is needed.*

#4: Maca Can Support Daily Energy*

Did you know that Center for Disease Control (CDC) research has shown women are more likely to feel fatigued than men?REF#182 If you’re tired of relying on coffee, chocolate, and other stimulants, maca can provide a jitter-free alternative.

Here are three ways maca may promote daily energy*:

  1. As an adaptogen, maca helps regulate your stress response, which supports hormonal health, blood sugar, sleep cycle, stamina, and cortisol levels, the body’s master stress hormone.*
  2. As a superfood, maca provides those previously mentioned energy-supporting nutrients, including iron, vitamin C, zinc, iodine, and amino acids. Iron deficiency or insufficiency is widespread in women of childbearing age and can cause significant fatigue and lack of energy. If you suspect you have an iron deficiency, be sure to consult with your healthcare professional.REF#183
  3. A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food showed maca supported mental and emotional health in mice exposed to stress.REF#184 Since better mental health may lead to more energy, this suggests another possible mechanism of action. 

It’s important to understand that maca doesn’t work like a stimulant and thus, does not have the same effect as caffeine. Regular use for several days or weeks may be needed to start seeing results.Many enjoy adding maca to smoothies, protein balls, or coffee. We recommend using it daily. 

#5: Maca May Provide Comfort During Menstruation*

Menstrual difficulties, such as mood swings, cramps, and irregular periods, are prevalent in women. These concerns are one of the leading reasons women start exploring herbs like maca.

You now know the history and evidence behind maca’s reproductive health benefits. How can it support menstruation?* Look to scientific evidence, traditional wisdom, and a few theories.

  • Maca’s hormonal benefits may also support healthy menstruation.*
  • As an adaptogen, it can help with stress-related menstrual issues such as poor sleep, fatigue, and a decreased ability to handle stress.* This point is important because excess stress in women has been linked to menstrual concerns like PMS and irregular periods.REF#185
  • Maca’s nutrients can support normal menstruation and even help with premenstrual problems like mood swings.*REF#186REF#187
  • Peruvian women traditionally used maca in their teens and child-bearing years to help regulate their cycles and avoid menstrual discomfort.*

Should you try maca for your period? Given its history of use and potential benefit tohormones, stress response, and nutrient levels, it may be worth a try, but check with your healthcare practitioner for individual dosing recommendations.

Just remember, it will likely take a few weeks or cycles to show a benefit; don’t expect a miracle if you start taking it the day before your period. 

#6: Maca May Support Menopause*

Research has begun confirming what Peruvian women have known for centuries: maca can be a valuable ally for women during menopause.*

A 2011 systematic review published in Maturitas, An International Journal of Midlife Health and Beyong, entitled: Maca (Lepidium meyenii) for treatment of menopausal symptoms, analyzed multiple clinical trials on maca’s efficacy for supporting healthy perimenopausal, early postmenopausal, and late postmenopausal women.

The review found that all the randomized clinical trials suggested a favorable benefit from taking maca. However, the authors felt more research was needed to establish more firm conclusions.REF#188

Additional research, such as a 2021 study published in Women’s Health London, found maca supplementation was beneficial for hot flashes and supported normal sleep patterns.REF#189

There is also evidence maca can benefit post-menopausal women by supporting libido, mental/emotional well-being, and normal blood pressure.REF#190REF#39

More research is needed to reach a definitive consensus on how maca works for menopause. 

However, when we examine the mechanisms of how maca benefits hormonal health, reproductive health, the adrenals, and more, one may hypothesize why generations of Peruvian women used it during menopause.*

#7: Maca Root May Promote Bone Health*

You can’t talk about menopause without discussing bone health. That’s because the natural drop in estrogen during and after menopause can cause a loss of bone density.

This loss can be significant. 

Per The Endocrine Society, research indicates up to 20% of bone loss can happen during this time. Approximately 1 in 10 women over 60 are affected by osteoporosis worldwide.REF#191

According to research published in the Journal Ethnopharmacology, maca can provide a supportive and potentially protective effect on bone density during menopause.REF#192

Another small animal study conducted by researchers from the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Lima, Peru, found maca supported healthy bone architecture in mice whose ovaries were removed (ovarian removal creates the same hormonal shifts as menopause).REF#193

We also know maca contains plant-based calcium and magnesium, which are essential for healthy joints and bones.*

#9: Maca Supports Focus and Overall Cognitive Health*

Women take on many life responsibilities, such as child-rearing and successful careers, especially as they get older. This requires enormous brain power, focus, and the ability to multitask.

It also means women experience chronic stress, which can wear down your brain and mood fast.

If you need cognitive support,the antioxidants in maca can help provide broad-spectrum support.*

For example, a study published in Toxicology Mechanisms and Methods showed the polysaccharides in maca (long-chain carbohydrates that nourish the body’s antioxidant levels) protect the brain by enhancing antioxidant levels, thereby reducing oxidative damage caused by free radicals.REF#29

Maca’s effects on the endocrine system and female hormones may benefit brain health.*

Maca also contains nutrients essential to proper brain function. These nutrients include essential fatty acids, which have been shown in numerous studies to benefit cognitive health, mood, and mental/emotional well-being, and iron which supports healthy oxygen levels.REF#194

Add in its energy-supportive benefits, and maca may be one of nature’s perfect brain foods.*

Experience The Empowering Benefits of Maca for Yourself

If you’re inspired to try maca to support your fertility, hormonal health, and more, there are a few things you should know first.*

Quality Counts

Sadly, the demand for maca has led some growers and manufacturers to rely on less-than-optimal cultivation and growing practices. 

Experts believe this can negatively affect maca’s phytochemical composition, which degrades its quality and potency.

To ensure a safe and effective product, look for the following:

  • Third-party certified organic maca, such as USDA Organic Certification
  • Pure maca or maca herbal blends that aren’t cut with fillers
  • Native-grown Peruvian maca vs. maca grown in China and India

Gaia Herbs offers several high-quality maca products for women that meet these quality standards. You can even use our Meet Your Herbs Platform (the world’s first herb traceability platform) to track the origins of your maca supplement right from your device.

Popular formulas include Women’s Libido, Maca Root, Maca Powder, and Everyday Adaptogen.

If you choose to go with Maca Powder, try these recipes for Minty Maca Shamrock Smoothie, Maca Cacao Popsicles, and Maca Matcha Latte With Maca Powder.

Remember, like most herbs, maca’s benefits may not be immediate. However, with consistent use, you too may experience this ancient super-root’s restorative power.*


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