Effects of Korean Red Ginseng on Sexual Arousal in Menopausal Women: Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind Crossover Clinical Study



      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.


      We assessed whether KRG extracts would improve sexual function in menopausal women.


      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).


      Twenty-eight women completed the study. They were, on average, 51.2 ± 4.1 years old, and their mean menopausal state was for a duration of 37.4 ± 2.9 months. Few carryover effects were noted in either study arm. The ginseng extract significantly improved scores on the FSFI from 3.10 ± 0.87 to 3.50 ± 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.


      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. Oh KJ, Chae MJ, Lee HS, Hong HD, and Park K. Effects of Korean red ginseng on sexual arousal in menopausal women: Placebo-controlled, double-blind crossover clinical study.


      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment
      ISSM Member Login
      Login with your ISSM username and password.
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'

      Purchase one-time access:

      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • Bahrke M.S.
        • Morgan W.R.
        Evaluation of the ergogenic properties of ginseng: An update.
        Sports Med. 2000; 29: 113-133
        • Vogler B.K.
        • Pittler M.H.
        • Ernst E.
        The efficacy of ginseng. A systematic review of randomised clinical trials.
        Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 1999; 55: 567-575
        • Hong B.
        • Ji Y.H.
        • Hong J.H.
        • Nam K.Y.
        • Ahn T.Y.
        A double-blind crossover study evaluating the efficacy of Korean red ginseng in patients with erectile dysfunction: A preliminary report.
        J Urol. 2002; 168: 2070-2073
        • Cho Y.K.
        • Sung H.
        • Lee H.J.
        • Joo C.H.
        • Cho G.J.
        Long-term intake of Korean red ginseng in HIV-1-infected patients: Development of resistance mutation to zidovudine is delayed.
        Int Immunopharmacol. 2001; 1: 1295-1305
        • Choi Y.D.
        • Xin Z.C.
        • Choi H.K.
        Effect of Korean red ginseng on the rabbit corpus cavernosal smooth muscle.
        Int J Impot Res. 1998; 10: 37-43
        • Kim S.O.
        • Kim M.K.
        • Lee H.S.
        • Park J.K.
        • Park K.
        The effect of Korean red ginseng on the relaxation response in isolated rabbit vaginal tissue and its mechanism.
        J Sex Med. 2008; 5: 2079-2084
        • Kim S.O.
        • Kim M.K.
        • Chae M.J.
        • Kim H.Y.
        • Park J.K.
        • Park K.
        Effect of Korean red ginseng on the relaxation of clitoral corpus cavernosum in rabbit.
        Kor J Androl. 2006; 24: 29-34
        • Kim S.O.
        • Lee M.
        • Xui Y.
        • Ahn K.Y.
        • Hong H.D.
        • Kim S.S.
        • Park K.
        Effects of Korean red ginseng on the vaginal blood flow and structure in femate castrated rats.
        Korean J Urol. 2006; 47: 888-894
        • Dennerstein L.
        • Randolph J.
        • Taffe J.
        • Dudley E.
        • Burger H.
        Hormones, mood, sexuality, and the menopausal transition.
        Fertil Steril. 2002; 77: S42-8
        • Dennerstein L.
        • Alexandr J.L.
        • Kotz K.
        The menopause and sexual functioning: A review of the population-based studies.
        Annu Rev Sex Res. 2003; 14: 64-82
        • Rosen R.
        • Brown C.
        • Heiman J.
        • Leiblum S.
        • Meston C.
        • Shabsigh R.
        • Ferguson D.
        • D’Agostino R.
        The female sexual function index (FSFI): A multidimensional self-report instrument for the assessment of female sexual function.
        J Sex Marital Ther. 2000; 26: 191-208
        • Kovalevsky G.
        Female sexual dysfunction and use of hormone therapy in postmenopausal women.
        Semin Reprod Med. 2005; 23: 180-187
        • Dennerstein L.
        • Burrows G.D.
        • Wood C.
        • Hyman G.
        Hormones and sexuality: Effect of estrogen and progestogen.
        Obstet Gynecol. 1980; 56: 316-322
        • Braunstein G.D.
        • Sundwall D.A.
        • Katz M.
        • Shifren J.L.
        • Buster J.E.
        • Simon J.A.
        • Bachman G.
        • Aguirre O.A.
        • Lucas J.S.
        • Rodenberg C.
        • Buch A.
        • Watts N.B.
        Safety and efficacy of a testosterone patch for the treatment of hypoactive sexual desire disorder in surgically menopausal women: A randomized, placebo-controlled trial.
        Arch Intern Med. 2005; 165: 1582-1589
        • Warnoock J.K.
        • Swanson S.G.
        • Borel R.W.
        • Zipfel L.M.
        • Brennan J.J.
        • ESTRATEST Clinical Study Group
        Combined esterified estrogens and methyltestosterone versus esterified estrogens alone in the treatment of loss of sexual interest in surgically menopausal women.
        Menopause. 2005; 12: 374-384
        • Arlt W.
        • Callies F.
        • Van Vlijmen J.C.
        • Koehler I.
        • Reincke M.
        • Bidlingmaier M.
        • Huebler D.
        • Oettel M.
        • Ernst M.
        • Schulte H.M.
        • Allolio B.
        Dehydroepiandrosterone replacement in women with adrenal insufficiency.
        N Engl J Med. 1999; 341: 1013-1020
        • Modell J.G.
        • May R.S.
        • Katholi C.R.
        Effect of bupropion-SR on orgasmic dysfunction in nondepressed subjects: A pilot study.
        J Sex Marital Ther. 2000; 26: 231-240
        • Piletz J.E.
        • Segraves K.B.
        • Feng Y.Z.
        • Maguire E.
        • Dunger B.
        • Halaris A.
        Plasma MHPG response to yohimbine treatment in women with hypoactive sexual desire.
        J Sex Marital Ther. 1998; 24: 43-54
        • Bechara A.
        • Bertolino M.V.
        • Casabe A.
        • Fredotovich N.
        A double-blind randomized placebo control study comparing the objective and subjective changes in female sexual response using sublingual apomorphine.
        J Sex Med. 2004; 1: 209-214
        • Berman J.R.
        • Berman L.A.
        • Toler S.M.
        • Gill J.
        • Haughie S.
        • Sildenafil Study Group
        Safety and efficacy of sildenafil citrate for the treatment of femal sexual arousal disorder: A double-blind, placebo controlled study.
        J Urol. 2003; 170: 2333-2338
        • Basson R.
        • McInnes R.
        • Smith M.D.
        • Hodgson G.
        • Koppiker N.
        Efficacy and safety of sildenafil citrate in women with sexual dysfunction associated with female sexual arousal disorder.
        J Womens Health Gend Based Med. 2002; 11: 367-377
        • Choi Y.D.
        • Rha K.H.
        • Choi H.K.
        In vitro and in vivo experimental effect of Korean red ginseng on erection.
        J Urol. 1999; 162: 1508-1511
        • Tsang D.
        • Yeung H.W.
        • Tso W.W.
        • Peck H.
        Ginseng saponins: Influence on neurotransmitter uptake in rat brain synaptosomes.
        Planta Med. 1985; 51: 221-224
        • D’Angelo L.
        • Grimaldi R.
        • Caravaggi M.
        • Marcoli M.
        • Perucca E.
        • Lecchini S.
        • Frigo G.M.
        • Crema A.
        A double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study on the effect of a standardized ginseng extract on psychomotor performance in healthy volunteers.
        J Ethnopharmacol. 1986; 16: 15-22
        • Albertazzi P.
        Non-estrogenic approaches for the treatment of climacteric symptoms.
        Climacteric. 2007; 10: 115-120
        • Modelska M.
        • Cummings S.
        Female sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women: Systemic review of placebo-controlled trials.
        Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2003; 188: 286-293
        • Coope J.
        • Thomson J.M.
        • Poller L.
        Effects of “natural oestrogen” replacement therapy on menopause symptoms and blood clotting.
        Br Med J. 1975; 4: 139-143
        • Rossouw J.E.
        • Anderson G.L.
        • Prentice R.L.
        • LaCroix A.Z.
        • Kooperberg C.
        • Stefanick M.L.
        • Jackson R.D.
        • Beresford S.A.
        • Howard B.V.
        • Johnson K.C.
        • Kotchen J.M.
        • Ockene J.
        Risks and benefits of estrogen plus progestin in healthy postmenopausal women: Principal results from the Women's Health Initiative randomized clinical trial.
        JAMA. 2002; 288: 321-333
        • Beral V.
        • Million Women Study Collaborators
        Breast cancer and hormone replacement therapy in the Million Women Study.
        Lancet. 2003; 362: 419-427
        • Polan M.L.
        • Hochberg R.B.
        • Trant A.S.
        • Wuh H.C.
        Estrogen bioassay of ginseng extract and arginmax®, a nutritional supplement for the enhancement of female sexual function.
        J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2004; 13: 427-430
        • Lau W.S.
        • Chan R.Y.
        • Guo D.A.
        • Wong M.S.
        Ginsenoside Rg1 exerts estrogen-like activities via ligand-independent activation of ERα pathway.
        J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2008; 108: 64-71
        • Hopkins M.P.
        • Androff L.
        • Benninghoff A.S.
        Ginseng face cream and unexplained vaginal bleeding.
        Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1988; 159: 1121-1122
        • Greenspan E.M.
        Ginseng and vaginal bleeding.
        JAMA. 1983; 249: 2018
        • Aslan E.
        • Beji N.K.
        • Gungor I.
        • Kadioglu A.
        • Dikencik B.K.
        Prevalence and risk factors for low sexual function in women: A study of 1,009 women in an outpatient clinic of a university hospital in Istanbul.
        J Sex Med. 2008; 5: 2044-2052
        • Nappi R.E.
        • Albani F.
        • Vaccaro P.
        • Gardella B.
        • Salonia A.
        • Chiovato L.
        • Spinillo A.
        • Polatti F.
        Use of the Italian translation of the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) in routine gynecological practice.
        Gynecol Endocrinol. 2008; 24: 214-219
        • Peeyananjarassri K.
        • Liabsuetrakul T.
        • Soonthornpun K.
        • Choobun T.
        • Manopsilp P.
        Sexual functioning in postmenopausal women not taking hormone therapy in the gynecological and menopause clinic, Songklanagarind hospital measured by Female Sexual Function Index questionnaire.
        J Med Assoc Thai. 2008; 91: 625-632
        • Salonia A.
        • Lanzi R.
        • Nappi R.E.
        • Daverio R.
        • Montorsi F.
        Fexual dysfunction in dysthyroidal women.
        Int J Impot Res. 2002; 14: 52
        • Erol B.
        • Tefekli A.
        • Ozbey I.
        • Salman F.
        • Dincag N.
        • Kadioglu A.
        • Tellaloglu S.
        Sexual dysfunction in type II diabetic females: A comparative study.
        J Sex Marital Ther. 2002; 28: 55-62
        • Leiblum S.R.
        Classification and diagnosis of female sexual disorders.
        in: Goldstein I. Meston C.M. Davis S.R. Traish A.M. Women's sexual function and dysfunction. Taylor & Francis, London2006: 323-330
        • Dennerstein L.
        • Dudley E.
        • Burger H.
        Are changes in sexual functioning during midlife due to aging or menopause?.
        Fertil Steril. 2001; 76: 456-460
        • Jang D.J.
        • Lee M.S.
        • Shin B.C.
        • Lee Y.C.
        • Ernest E.
        Red ginseng for treating erectile dysfunction: A systemic review.
        Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2008; 66: 444-450
        • Cui J.F.
        • Bjorkhem I.
        • Eneroth P.
        Gas chromatographic-mass spectrometric determination of 20(S)-protopanaxadiol and 20(S)-protopanaxatriol for study on human urinary preparations.
        J Chromatogr B Biomed Sci Appl. 1997; 689: 349-355
        • Lu J.M.
        • Yao Q.
        • Chen C.
        Ginseng compounds: An update on their molecular mechanisms and medical applications.
        Curr Vasc Pharmacol. 2009; 7: 293-302