Testaments of Female Natural Contraceptives: An Update on the Usage of African Herbal Remedies


  • Oluwasegun Adedokun CBIOS – Universidade Lusofona’s Research Center for Bioscience and Health Technologies, Lisbon, Portugal
  • Kingsley Igharo Igbinedion College of Health Technology, Edo State, Nigeria
  • Ifedolapo Akindele Department of Pharmacognosy and Natural Products, College of Pharmacy, Afe Babalola University, Nigeria
  • Ibiwumi Adedeji Department of Pharmacognosy and Natural Products, College of Pharmacy, Afe Babalola University, Nigeria
  • Olayinka Ogunmefun Department of Pharmacognosy and Natural Products, College of Pharmacy, Afe Babalola University, Nigeria
  • Ume Ogochuwkwu Department of Biological Sciences, College of Sciences, Afe Babalola University, Nigeria
  • Nnamani Didacus Department of Pharmaceutical Technology, College of Pharmacy, Igbinedion University, Nigeria,




Nigeria, medicinal plants, contraceptive, birth control


Traditional herbal methods of birth control have been used by many traditions for hundreds of years because they offer several benefits over modern methods like synthetic hormones, intrauterine devices (IUD), and surgery. This literature review set out to determine which African medicinal plants are used as contraceptives, with the most emphasis on Nigeria and some of the phytochemical constituents that are implicated in the anti-fertility. In this research, we used an e-library search and pertinent books to filter the published literature on the topic of plants with antifertility and contraceptive effects. More than 70 plants were shown to have a wide range of anti-pregnancy effects, including acting as abortifacients, inhibiting sperm motility, and even imitating or interfering with female reproductive hormones. Based on this review, over 15 substances have been identified as potentially having contraceptive effects, including ferutinin, quinovic acid glycosides, nimbolide, resveratrol, gossypol, etc. The lack of rigorous scientific studies and clinical trials that authenticate the efficacy and safety of natural contraceptives has led to persistently low rates of adoption despite the many benefits and various initiatives by government and developmental entities to increase their adoption in Nigeria. In conclusion, increased advocacy is required for scientists to intensify efforts in natural-based contraceptive research for proper validation and complementary effort with current conventional contraceptives.

Author Biography

Olayinka Ogunmefun, Department of Pharmacognosy and Natural Products, College of Pharmacy, Afe Babalola University, Nigeria

Department of Biological Sciences, College of Sciences, Afe Babalola University, Nigeria


Baird DT, Evers JLH, Gemzell-Danielsson K. Family planning 2011: Better use of existing methods, new strategies and more informed choices for female contraception. Hum Reprod Update. 2012;18(6). doi:10.1093/humupd/dms021

The Use of Contraceptives in Nigeria: Benefits, Challenges and Probable Solutions. J Law, Policy Glob. Published online 2019. doi:10.7176/jlpg/86-09

Schreiber CA, Barnhart K. Contraception. In: Yen & Jaffe’s Reproductive Endocrinology: Physiology, Pathophysiology, and Clinical Management: Eighth Edition. 2019. doi:10.1016/B978-0-323-47912-7.00036-6

Baird DT, Castelo-Branco C, Collins J. Female contraception over 40. Hum Reprod Update. 2009;15(6). doi:10.1093/humupd/dmp020

Dhingra AK, Chopra B. Herbal Remedies for Birth Control: An Alternative to Synthetic Hormonal Contraceptives. Curr Womens Heal Rev. 2020;16(4). doi:10.2174/1573404816999200511002829

Braaten KP, Dutton C. Overview of female permanent contraception - UpToDate. Published online 2021.

Woodhams E, Gilliam M. Barrier methods. In: Contraception for Adolescent and Young Adult Women. 2014. doi:10.1007/978-1-4614-6579-9_5

Abiodun O. Use of emergency contraception in Nigeria: An exploration of related factors among sexually active female university students. Sex Reprod. Healthc. 2016;7. doi:10.1016/j.srhc.2015.10.004

Udomboso CG, Amoateng AY. Modelling Trends in Contraception Usage in Nigeria and Ghana. J Health Manag. 2018;20(3). doi:10.1177/0972063418779901

Moroole MA, Materechera SA, Otang-Mbeng W, Hayeshi R, Bester C, Aremu AO. Phytochemical Profile, Safety and Efficacy of a Herbal Mixture Used for Contraception by Traditional Health Practitioners in Ngaka Modiri Molema District Municipality, South Africa. Plants. 2022;11(2). doi:10.3390/plants11020193

Devi P, Kumar P, Nidhi N, Dhamija I. Antifertility Activity of Medicinal Plants on Male and Female Reproduction. Int J Pharm Sci Res. 2015;6(3). 988-1001.

Gupta R, Sharma R. A review on medicinal plants exhibiting antifertility activity in males. Indian J Nat Prod Resour. 2006;5(5). 243-272.

Moroole MA, Materechera SA, Mbeng WO, Aremu AO. Medicinal plants used for contraception in South Africa: A review. J Ethnopharmacol. 2019;235. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2019.02.002

Hammam A mohsen M, Elmotayam AK, Elnattat WM. Assessment of Ferula hermonis Boiss fertility effects in immature female rats supported by quantification of ferutinin via HPLC and molecular docking. J Ethnopharmacol. 2022;289. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2022.115062

Yépez AMP, de Ugaz OL, Alvarez CMP. Quinovic acid glycosides from Uncaria guianensis. Phytochemistry. 1991;30(5). doi:10.1016/0031-9422(91)84223-F

Aquino R, De Tommasi N, De Simone F, Pizza C. Triterpenes and quinovic acid glycosides from Uncaria tomentosa. Phytochemistry. 1997;45(5). doi:10.1016/S0031-9422(96)00716-9

Biosci IJ, Nishan M, Subramanian P. Pharmacological and non pharmacological activity of Azadirachta indica ( Neem ) - A review. Int J Biosci. 2014;5(6). 104-112.

Mahboubi M, Mahboubi M. Pimpinella anisum and female disorders: A review. Phytomedicine Plus. 2021;1(3). doi:10.1016/j.phyplu.2021.100063

Song JH, Hwang B, Chung HJ. Peanut sprout extracts cultivated with fermented sawdust medium inhibits benign prostatic hyperplasia in vitro and in vivo. World J Mens Health. 2020;38(3). doi:10.5534/wjmh.190173

Maia H, Haddad C, Pinheiro N, Casoy J. Advantages of the association of resveratrol with oral contraceptives for management of endometriosis-related pain. Int J Womens Health. 2012;4(1). doi:10.2147/ijwh.s36825

Chen Y, Xu H, Liu C. LncRNA DIO3OS regulated by TGF-β1 and resveratrol enhances epithelial mesenchymal transition of benign prostatic hyperplasia epithelial cells and proliferation of prostate stromal cells. Transl Androl Urol. 2021;10(2). doi:10.21037/TAU-20-1169

Waites GMH, Wang C, Griffin PD. Gossypol: Reasons for its failure to be accepted as a safe, reversible male antifertility drug. Int J Androl. 1998;21(1). doi:10.1046/j.1365-2605.1998.00092.x

Coutinho EM, Athayde C, Atta G. Gossypol blood levels and inhibition of spermatogenesis in men taking gossypol as a contraceptive. A multicenter, international, dose-finding study. Contraception. 2000;61(1). doi:10.1016/S0010-7824(99)00117-1

Hoshiai H, Uehara S, Mori R, Nagaike F, Tsuiki A, Suzuki M. Gossypol as Oral Contraceptive for Male: Trial Case Report. Tohoku J Exp Med. 1982;138(3). doi:10.1620/tjem.138.275

Coutinho EM. Gossypol: A contraceptive for men. Contraception. 2002;65(4). doi:10.1016/S0010-7824(02)00294-9

Saifi B, Haftcheshmeh SM, Feligioni M. An overview of the therapeutic effects of Curcumin in reproductive disorders with a focus on the antiinflammatory and immunomodulatory activities. Phyther Res. 2022;36(2). doi:10.1002/ptr.7360

Naz RK, Lough ML. Curcumin as a potential non-steroidal contraceptive with spermicidal and microbicidal properties. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2014;176(1). doi:10.1016/j.ejogrb.2014.01.024

Nora H, Rajuddin, Hafizudin, Suhanda R, Indirayani I. Curcumin, a potential oral herbal male contraceptive: a review article. Bali Med J. 2022;12(1). doi:10.15562/bmj.v12i1.3937

Knetzger N, Bachtin V, Lehmann S, Hensel A, Liebau E, Herrmann F. The anthelmintic quassinoids ailanthone and bruceine a induce infertility in the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans by an apoptosis-like mechanism induced in gonadal and spermathecal tissues. Molecules. 2021;26(23). doi:10.3390/molecules26237354

Abarikwu SO, Onuah CL, Singh SK. Plants in the management of male infertility. Andrologia. 2020;52(3). doi:10.1111/and.13509

Mannowetz N, Miller MR, Lishko P V. Regulation of the sperm calcium channel CatSper by endogenous steroids and plant triterpenoids. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017;114(22). doi:10.1073/pnas.1700367114

Khosravi Z, Sedaghat R, Baluchnejadmojarad T, Roghani M. Diosgenin ameliorates testicular damage in streptozotocin-diabetic rats through attenuation of apoptosis, oxidative stress, and inflammation. Int Immunopharmacol. 2019;70. doi:10.1016/j.intimp.2019.01.047

Widiastuti EL, Sutyarso, Susanto GN, Rudini M, Kanedi M. Ameliorative properties of crude diosgenin from Costus speciosus and taurine on testicular disorders in alloxan-induced diabetic mice. Biomed Pharmacol J. 2017;10(1). doi:10.13005/bpj/1075

Waizel-Bucay J. The tradicional use of the species of the genus Dioscorea. Rev Fitoter. 2009;9(1). 52-67.

Adesina S, Iwalewa E, Johnny I. Tetrapleura tetraptera Taub- Ethnopharmacology, Chemistry, Medicinal and Nutritional Values- A Review. Br J Pharm Res. 2016;12(3). doi:10.9734/bjpr/2016/26554

Surendran S, Prasannan P, Jeyaram Y, Palanivel V, Pandian A, Ramasubbu R. Knowledge on ethnogynaecology of Indian Tribes- a comprehensive review. J Ethnopharmacol. 2023;303. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2022.115880.

Benatoui R, Bairi A, Tahraoui A. Modulatory effect of harmine on spatial memory, fertility via mao inhibition, preventing anemia and anti-nociception upon footshock stress at three stages of pregnant rats. Univers J Pharm Res. Published online 2021. doi:10.22270/ujpr.v6i5.671

Mahajan R, Gajare S. Manifestation of erectile dysfunction with adaptogenic antioxidant aphrodisiac plants. Int J Pharm Biomed Res. 2012;3(1). 52-68.

Singh D, Sharma SK, Shekhawat MS, Yadav KK, Sharma RA, Yadav RK. Antifertility activity of kaempferol-7-O-glucoside isolated from Cassia nodosa bunch. Electron J Environ Agric Food Chem. 2012;11(5). 52-67.

Whaley AK, Burtseva Y V., Kuldyrkaeva EV. A Method for the Isolation of Thymoquinone from Black Caraway Seed Oil (Nigella sativa L.). Drug Dev Regist. 2023;12(3). doi:10.33380/2305-2066-2023-12-3-29-40

Mahomoodally MF, Aumeeruddy MZ, Legoabe LJ, Montesano D, Zengin G. Nigella sativa L. and Its Active Compound Thymoquinone in the Clinical Management of Diabetes: A Systematic Review. Int J Mol Sci. 2022;23(20). doi:10.3390/ijms232012111

Islam MT, Khan MR, Mishra SK. An updated literature-based review: phytochemistry, pharmacology and therapeutic promises of Nigella sativa L. Orient Pharm Exp Med. 2019;19(2). doi:10.1007/s13596-019-00363-3

Elmaci I, Altinoz MA. Thymoquinone: An edible redox-active quinone for the pharmacotherapy of neurodegenerative conditions and glial brain tumors. A short review. Biomed Pharmacother. 2016;83. doi:10.1016/j.biopha.2016.07.018

Emma Mendonca MFT. Kaempferol Exhibits Progestogenic Effects in Ovariectomized Rats. J Steroids Horm Sci. 2013;05(03). doi:10.4172/2157-7536.1000136

Adedokun O, Gbolade A, Ayinde B. 13, 14-Epoxyoleanan-3-ol-acetate: A Male Fertility-Enhancing Constituent from Hexane Fraction of Momordica charantia L. (Cucurbitaceae). Turkish J Pharm Sci. 2022;19(2):180-186. doi:10.4274/tjps.galenos.2021.48264

Jones WP, Kinghorn AD. Extraction of plant secondary metabolites. Methods Mol Biol. 2012;864. doi:10.1007/978-1-61779-624-1_13

Pathak A, Mallurwar V, Kondalkar AK, Soni S. A review of plants with anti-fertility activity. Niger J Nat Prod Med. 2006;9(1). doi:10.4314/njnpm.v9i1.11824

Kadam A, Gaykar B. A Review On Medicinal Plants Exhibiting Antifertility and Contraceptive activities. J Basic Sci. 2015;4(03).

Chakraborty AK, Gaikwad AV, Singh KB. Phytopharmacological review on Acanthospermum hispidum. J Appl Pharm Sci. 2012;2(1). 144-148.




How to Cite

Adedokun, O., Igharo, K., Akindele, I., Adedeji, I., Ogunmefun, O., Ogochuwkwu, U., & Didacus, N. (2024). Testaments of Female Natural Contraceptives: An Update on the Usage of African Herbal Remedies. Tropical Journal of Natural Product Research (TJNPR), 8(4), 6757–6764. https://doi.org/10.26538/tjnpr/v8i4.2