Because of falling estrogen levels during menopause, middle-aged women may suffer from vaginal atrophy, triggering symptoms like dryness and low lubrication, among others. Up to 41% of women may also experience sexual dysfunction, including arousal and orgasm difficulties.1
To many, fennel may not seem like a go-to herb for treating sexual issues. However, for thousands of years, it has been considered an aphrodisiac and used to boost libido. Despite its long-standing folk uses, research validating its applications for sexual dysfunction is lacking.
The purpose of this clinical trial was to evaluate the effects of fennel on sexual function in women after menopause.
Participants of this trial were 60 postmenopausal women, reporting symptoms of sexual dysfunction.
They were split into two groups: the intervention group, using fennel vagina cream every night, and the control group, using the placebo vaginal cream. The intervention lasted for eight weeks.
Before the study and at its completion, women had their vaginal pH and cytology measured as well as their atrophy symptoms assessed, including dryness, painful intercourse, itching, and others. They also filled out the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI).
The findings of this trial were published in the Journal of Medicine and Life.
At the end of the trial, researchers observed improvements in sexual function (e.g., arousal, lubrication, orgasm, sexual satisfaction, and pain) in both groups, with more significant changes present in the fennel group.
Women in the fennel group had substantially higher FSFI scores than those in the control group (33.79 vs. 18.99).
There were no serious side effects reported by either group.
What Does this Mean?
As can be seen in the results of this trial, fennel vaginal cream can improve sexual function in postmenopausal women. Researchers recommend considering it a valid treatment for sexual dysfunction.
This is good news for middle-aged women as it allows them to treat their symptoms without synthetic hormones. Typically, women are prescribed estrogen vaginal cream, which may come with side effects, although lesser than those associated with systemic hormone replacement therapy.
- Journal of Medicine and Life, Effect of fennel vaginal cream on sexual function in postmenopausal women: A double blind randomized controlled trial, 2018
- Obstetrics Gynecology. (2006). Sexual activity and function in middle-aged and older women. Retrieved March 16, 2021 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16582109/