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Peruvian plant offers hope for sex lives of diabetic women

The effects of diabetes on organs such as the heart, eyes and kidneys are relatively well known, but women are now being warned of its potential to cause damage in another way – to sexual performance.

Victoria University's Professor Lily Stojanovska and Dr Michael Mathai are conducting a study to assess the potential for improving sexual function in women with type 2 diabetes by taking a supplement from a plant traditionally used for this purpose in Peru.

The root of the plant Maca (Lepidium meyenii), which grows in the Peruvian Andes, has been used by locals for centuries, where it is reported to enhance fertility and to boost energy levels.

"We know from trials in our laboratory, and other published data that Maca improves sexual function in postmenopausal women," Professor Stojanovska said.

"Now we want to conduct a trial on sexually active women with type 2 diabetes aged 30-49 to see how it works for them."

Professor Stojanovska and her research colleague, Dr Michael Mathai, are recruiting women who fit this profile from the western suburbs of Melbourne.

"Participants will be randomly assigned a 3.25g daily dose of Maca or a placebo of rice flower for 8 weeks each, Professor Stojanovska said. Each participant will receive Maca and the placebo over the 16 weeks trial.

"We will measure plasma glucose and insulin at three points – before commencement, at 8 weeks and at 16 weeks of treatment. Participants will also be asked to complete questionnaires related to sexual satisfaction.

"We expect to find an improvement in sexual satisfaction and also in the indicators for diabetes."

Women who fit the profile and who would like to participate in the study can contact Professor Stojanovska (9919 2737) or Dr Mathai (9919 2211) or research assistant  Viki Kitanovska (0419 309 557) at the School of Biomedical and Health Sciences.


Professor Lily Stojanovska
School of Biomedical and Health Sciences, Victoria University
Ph: (03) 9919-2737; Mobile: 0425 877 135.

Media inquiries:

Ann Marie Angebrandt, Media Officer
Marketing and Communications Department, Victoria University
Ph: (03) 9919-5487; Mobile: 0403 556 001

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