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What are the Pros and Cons of Tribulus for Women?

By Melissa Barrett
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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There are both pros and cons for the use of tribulus for women. Supporters claim it can regulate the menstrual cycle, improve libido, and increase fertility. Opponents list possible side effects such as an increased risk of cancer and raised hormone levels. As an herbal supplement, tribulus is generally unregulated by regional health organizations, so few government-backed studies have been done to support its effectiveness and safety.

Tribulus for women has been shown to increase the level of certain reproductive hormones in the body. When given on certain days of their menstrual cycle to women with irregular ovulation, it may be effective in establishing normal ovulation. This can lead to improved fertility.

The increased hormone levels may also bring relief from the common complaints of menopause. Evidence suggests that menopausal women suffer from fewer hot flashes when taking tribulus. Feelings of depression, anxiety and insomnia may also be lessened. There is also some anecdotal evidence that tribulus for women can reduce symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome in pre-menopausal women.

Increased testosterone levels have also been observed when taking tribulus. These increased levels can increase sexual drive in women. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has historically used tribulus in the form of a tonic as an aphrodisiac for both men and women.

Tribulus is used in TCM for both genders to treat most forms of skin problems, including rashes and acne. Increased energy, improved urinary function and decreased lethargy are also listed as benefits. Muscle building often becomes easier for both sexes when taking tribulus.

Tribulus for women has led to some gender-specific side effects being reported. Most common is a deepening of the voice. This frequently disappears shortly after discontinuing the supplement. The excess muscle development can also be considered an adverse side effect by some women.

A lack of unbiased studies has led to questions about the safety of tribulus use during pregnancy. The changes in hormone levels have the possibility of interfering with the normal progress of gestation. As such, most physicians advise discontinuing tribulus supplements during pregnancy.

Increased aggression has been reported by a small number of both female and male users of tribulus. This is most likely linked to the increase in testosterone caused by the herb. Users who suffer from this aggression may need to reduce the dosage of tribulus or discontinue the supplement altogether.

Nausea and stomach upset are the most common complaints of tribulus use. These stomach problems often present themselves when a person is first beginning the supplement and lessen or disappear over time. It is often recommended that tribulus be taken with food.

Prolonged elevation of testosterone and other hormones has been linked to certain cancers. Some physicians warn against extended use of tribulus for this reason. Some small independent studies have shown a link between tribulus use and cancer in mice.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By Wisedly33 — On Jan 21, 2014

@Grivusangel: Thanks for the information! That's helpful. Next time I'm close to the local health food store, I'll ask them about it. They're good folks and pretty reliable.

By Grivusangel — On Jan 20, 2014

@Wisedly33: Good question. I looked it up and the information said it's a plant that produces a spine-covered fruit. The spines are so sharp, apparently, they can puncture the tires on a bicycle.

What I read said the root, fruit and leaves are all used in various remedies, and that some women have been known to use it to induce abortions. That sounds a little scary, to me.

Call me paranoid, but I'm just kind of leery of anything that really messes with my hormone levels, unless the dosage is regulated -- and I know that's how much I'm getting.

By Wisedly33 — On Jan 20, 2014

O.K. The article says tribulus is "an herbal supplement," but what the heck *is* it? Are we talking ground up elk antlers here? It sounds like it might be a good idea for some conditions, but I'd want to know exactly what it is, first.

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