Cordyceps for Sexual Health

Sexual dysfunctions, such as ones concerning arousal, orgasm, and desire, are seeing a global increase, despite the medical advancements in place targeting these issues [1]. Although many treatments exist, the side effects and cost associated with them often reduce patient compliance.

Alternative approaches are increasing in popularity for a wide array of medical conditions; sexual dysfunction being one of them. Not only do alternative approaches tend to improve sexual health, but they provide many other beneficial outcomes for multiple bodily systems.

Medicinal mushrooms, such as Cordyceps, are one of many targets of current research for complementary and alternative treatment of sexual dysfunction. This medicinal fungus has been used to treat hyposexuality, among other health conditions, in Asian societies for centuries.  

Aging in males is usually associated with a decrease in sperm count and quality. Although this is not directly associated with obvious signs or symptoms the individual may be experiencing, it will make reproducing more difficult and may be a reason why some couples struggle to conceive.

Cordyceps Fruiting Body Mushroom

The Studies and Research of Cordyceps

A clinical study administered Cordyceps mushroom extracts to 22 males for 8 weeks and found an average 33% increase in sperm count, 29% decrease in sperm malformations, and 79% increase in sperm survival rates [2]. An additional study researched the effects of Cordyceps on males and females and found improvements in sexual desire of 66%, while another administered only to females found improvements of 86% in libido and sexual desire [3,4].  

There are many health conditions that increase an individual’s risk of developing sexual dysfunction, such as diabetes [5]. Testicular damage may occur as a result of oxidative stress seen in diabetic patients, which may result in decreased sperm quality, testosterone levels, and sexual performance [5].

One study assessed the aphrodisiac properties of Cordyceps in diabetic male rats and found that the mushroom extract was able to improve sperm parameters, serum testosterone levels, and sexual performance [5]. The mechanisms underlying these improvements lie in Cordyceps’ ability to decrease malondialdehyde levels and improve the number of antioxidants present, such as glutathione [5]. Malondialdehyde is an indicator of oxidative damage; the higher it is, the more oxidative stress there is.  

An extract from the fruiting body of Cordyceps was found to improve signs and symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and late-onset hypogonadism (LOH), both age-related male conditions [6]. Findings in the study suggested that Cordyceps was able to increase testosterone levels by suppressing its breakdown or enhancing its secretion from testicular cells if they were depleting [6].

Overall, it was found that in instances of testosterone imbalances, Cordyceps helped to maintain levels and inhibit prostate hypertrophy, assisting in the treatment or prevention of LOH or BPH in aging males [6].  

Cordyceps Mushroom Extract Supplement

Cordyceps Mushroom Supplement for Menopause

Estradiol is arguably the most important female sex hormone. Not only is it required for reproductive and sexual function, but it also plays a role in the health of other organs and tissues in the body. In several studies, Cordyceps has been found to increase estradiol levels due to its effects on StAR and aromatase expression; both of which are essential for estradiol production [7]. Estradiol directly influences the quality of female oocytes, or “eggs,” meaning it significantly affects fertility [7].

Even in studies of menopausal females, Cordyceps was able to regulate hypothalamic-pituitary function and result in a hormonal balance similar to that of non-menopausal individuals; thus decreasing possible symptoms and risks associated with the transition into menopause [8].  

Sexual health holds the same level of importance as the health of our other bodily systems. Not only is it important for those hoping to conceive, but a healthy sex life can improve many basic health parameters. It can lower blood pressure, decrease stress, improve heart health, increase sleep quality, and even improve our immune systems. The fruiting body extract of Cordyceps may be the answer to your current sexual health concerns, or even a simple preventative measure to take.  

We hope you have found this article informative. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comment section below! 

By Silvana Jakupovic — BSc and 4th Year Student of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM-Boucher) 

References: 

[1] Jiraungkoorskul K, Jiraungkoorskul W. Review of Naturopathy of Medical Mushroom, Ophiocordyceps Sinensis, in Sexual Dysfunction. Pharmacogn Rev. 2016 Jan-Jun;10(19):1-5. doi: 10.4103/0973-7847.176566. PMID: 27041868; PMCID: PMC4791983. 

[2] Guo Y. Medicinal chemistry, pharmacology and clinical applications of fermented mycelia of Cordyceps sinensis and JinShuBao capsule.J Mod Diag Ther. 1986;1:60–5. 

[3] Wan F, Guo Y, Deng X. Sex hormone like effects of Jin Shui Bao [Cs-4] capsule: Pharmacological and clinical studies.Chinese Trad Patent Med. 1988;9:29–31. 

[4] Dong CH, Yao YJ. In vitro evaluation of antioxidant activities of aqueous extracts from natural and cultured mycelia of Cordyceps sinensis.LWT-Food Sci Technol. 2008;41:669–77. 

[5] Nguyen TV, Chumnanpuen P, Parunyakul K, Srisuksai K, Fungfuang W. A study of the aphrodisiac properties of Cordyceps militaris in streptozotocin-induced diabetic male rats. Vet World. 2021 Feb;14(2):537-544. doi: 10.14202/vetworld.2021.537-544. Epub 2021 Feb 27. PMID: 33776321; PMCID: PMC7994127. 

[6] Kusama K, Miyagawa M, Ota K, Kuwabara N, Saeki K, Ohnishi Y, Kumaki Y, Aizawa T, Nakasone T, Okamatsu S, Miyaoka H, Tamura K. Cordyceps militaris Fruit Body Extract Decreases Testosterone Catabolism and Testosterone-Stimulated Prostate Hypertrophy. Nutrients. 2020 Dec 26;13(1):50. doi: 10.3390/nu13010050. PMID: 33375244; PMCID: PMC7824671.  

[7] Huang BM, Hsiao KY, Chuang PC, Wu MH, Pan HA, Tsai SJ. Upregulation of steroidogenic enzymes and ovarian 17beta-estradiol in human granulosa-lutein cells by Cordyceps sinensis mycelium. Biol Reprod. 2004 May;70(5):1358-64. doi: 10.1095/biolreprod.103.022855. Epub 2004 Jan 7. PMID: 14711788. 

[8] Zhang DW, Wang ZL, Qi W, Zhao GY. The effects of Cordyceps sinensis phytoestrogen on estrogen deficiency-induced osteoporosis in ovariectomized rats. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014 Dec 13;14:484. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-14-484. PMID: 25496560; PMCID: PMC4302055. 

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