Does Ashwagandha Make You Horny? What to Know

ashwagandha powder in a measuring spoon

Even those only passingly familiar with ashwagandha may have heard about at least one of its many health benefits. But did you know that aside from its stress-relieving and endurance support, ashwagandha has been used for centuries to boost sex drive?

Early scientific evidence supports the claim that ashwagandha has an impact on libido, sexual health, and sexual function in both males and females. These studies have shown promising results in terms of its potential to enhance libido and improve sexual health.

Read on for our breakdown of ashwagandha’s impact on sexuality, whether it makes you horny, and what to know about using the root for sex.

Key Takeaways

  • Ashwagandha is an ancient herb that’s historically been used to improve sexual health and function.
  • Ashwagandha can increase sperm count, heighten testosterone, and improving overall libido.
  • Individuals looking to increase arousal can use ashwagandha supplements in pill or powder form.

What is Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha is an evergreen shrub plant that grows wild in India, Africa, and the Middle East. It produces red berries, which give it its other name: winter cherry and Indian ginseng. The word "ashwagandha" roughly translates to "smell of a horse" due to the pungent odor emitted by its roots. But never fear; supplements made with ashwagandha aren’t usually as stinky.

Many cultural traditions, including Ayurvedic medicine, have harnessed ashwagandha as a remedy for vitality, strength-building, and (as discussed below) enhancing sexual health. The roots are pulverized into a powder to use as a consumable product, though some supplements also use the plant’s berries.

Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, a class of materials believed to naturally help the body optimize to deal with mental and physical stress and achieve wellness. It does so by reducing the overall cortisol levels in the body, a hormone that correlates with stress and triggers a fight-or-flight response. 

While we need more research to understand definitively how ashwagandha impacts the body, studies have found it can improve cognitive function and produce more restful sleep. This makes ashwagandha especially useful for high performers who must be on their A-game, such as test-takers or workers.

How Ashwagandha Affects Sex

Testosterone

Although the link between ashwagandha and testosterone requires further examination, some clinical studies have discovered that ashwagandha may increase testosterone levels. 

In one study, researchers examined men without significant weight training experience. Both groups participated in an 8-week resistance training program, but one group took 300mg of ashwagandha root twice daily. At the end of the trial, the men who took the supplement showed a more significant increase in testosterone levels compared to the control. 

Another trial tested ashwagandha’s impact on men with fertility issues and found that participants reported up to a 22% increase in testosterone levels and improved sperm quality.

Increased testosterone goes hand in hand with desire, so this research indicates that ashwagandha does indeed make you horny. While only men were included in this study, testosterone is responsible for desire in women as well, so the same effects may occur.

Sex Drive

Testosterone is also associated with desire, and ashwagandha has been clinically found to improve overall libido and sex drive. One study examined women who reported experiencing little sexual interest, and a 2-month protocol of taking ashwagandha significantly improved their desire and the overall frequency of sexual experiences.

Another study focused on the effect of ashwagandha on female sexual function. The study included 50 women with female sexual dysfunction. The participants were divided into two groups: one receiving Ashwagandha supplementation and the other receiving a placebo. The findings revealed that the group taking Ashwagandha experienced improvements in sexual desire, lubrication, and overall sexual satisfaction compared to the placebo group.

Fertility

Ashwagandha may improve overall fertility, due to its impact on sperm health and motility. A 2009 study looked at 60 infertile men, and over three months, all groups – but especially the high-stress group - saw improved sperm quality. A review of existing studies also found that the root improved sperm count and health and, due to its impact on desire in women, increased overall chances of successful reproduction.

Erectile Dysfunction

Finally, ashwagandha may be able to help men struggling with erectile dysfunction, though reports of its efficacy are largely anecdotal. In practice, clinical studies actually refute its ability to help with psychological barriers that lead to erectile dysfunction.

One study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine examined the effects of ashwagandha on ED and found that it has no noticeable effect. Another older study found that rats actually experienced symptoms of ED when taking ashwagandha for a week - though it’s important to note that animal studies don’t always correlate with human experience. 

It’s believed that ashwagandha works on ED by lowering stress levels in the body, which have been reported to contribute to ED. Anxiety can lower ashwagandhaso by reducing ongoing stress, and a normal libido and sexual ability may return.

Using Ashwagandha for Arousal

Individuals seeking to use ashwagandha for improving arousal have many options. Some manufacturers create pills as a supplement for easy consumption. Others mix ashwagandha into a powder that can be mixed into a beverage or smoothie.

We don’t yet have a standardized dose of ashwagandha for arousal. In most of the studies mentioned above, participants received anywhere from 5 to 300mg of ashwagandha per day. When deciding the best ashwagandha dose for you, it’s essential to consider your goals, unique physiology, and any potential counteractions with other medications. 

The Bottom Line: Ashwagandha’s Impact on Libido

All things considered, ashwagandha shows promising effects on libido and sexual health in both males and females. While numerous studies have demonstrated its ability to enhance sexual desire, though, it’s still important to understand that the herb’s effects vary from person to person. 

More research is needed to know how ashwagandha supplements fully impact sexual health. But given its many health benefits in and out of the bedroom, it may be worth exploring.

Sources

  1. Wankhede, S., Langade, D., Joshi, K., Sinha, S. R., & Bhattacharyya, S. (2015). Examining the effect of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 12(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-015-0104-9
  2. Ahmad, M. K., Mahdi, A. A., Shukla, K. K., Islam, N., Rajender, S., Dama, M. S., Shankhwar, S. N., & Ahmad, S. (2010). Withania somnifera improves semen quality by regulating reproductive hormone levels and oxidative stress in seminal plasma of infertile males. Fertility and Sterility, 94(3), 989–996. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fertnstert.2009.04.046
  3. Ajgaonkar, A., Jain, M., & Debnath, K. (2022). Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Root Extract for Improvement of Sexual Health in Healthy Women: A Prospective, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study. Cureus. https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.30787
  4. Dongre, S., Langade, D., & Bhattacharyya, S. (2015). Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Root Extract in Improving Sexual Function in Women: A Pilot Study. BioMed Research International, 2015. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/284154
  5. Mahdi, A. A., Shukla, K. K., Ahmad, M. K., Rajender, S., Shankhwar, S. N., Singh, V., & Dalela, D. (2011). Withania somniferaImproves Semen Quality in Stress-Related Male Fertility. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2011, 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1093/ecam/nep138
  6. Doost Azgomi, R. N., Zomorrodi, A., Nazemyieh, H., Bagher Fazljou, S. M., Bazargani, H. S., Nejatbakhsh, F., Jazani, A. M., & AsrBadr, Y. A. (2018). Effects of Withania somnifera on Reproductive System: A Systematic Review of the Available Evidence. BioMed Research International, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/4076430
  7. Mamidi, P., & Thakar, A. B. Efficacy of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera Dunal. Linn.) in the management of psychogenic erectile dysfunction. Ayu, 32(3), 322-328. https://doi.org/10.4103/0974-8520.93907
  8. Effect of Withania somnifera root extract on the sexual behaviour of male rats. (2002, December 1). PubMed. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12508132/

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