How & Why Use Neem Oil For Contraception

Close-up view of the Neem leaves.

Ayurveda has opened the doors of safe and effective alternatives to modern medications for various illnesses, and the use of neem oil for the purpose of contraception is a stark example of the same.

Neem oil is highly regarded as a powerful natural remedy for the management of a wide range of acute and chronic diseases including diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, hair loss, and even cancer.

Recent research has helped discover the medicinal potential of this herb as a natural contraceptive.

Here is a detailed analysis of the use of Neem oil for the purpose of preventing pregnancy, the mechanism of action of this herb, and the right ways to use it.

Table of Contents

Neem: A Versatile Herb

Neem (Azadirachta indica) is a plant native to the Indian subcontinent. [1]

It is revered as ‘Sarva roga nivarini’, which means ‘a cure for all ailments’, thanks to the powerful antimicrobial, fungicidal, bactericidal, anti-lipemic, and anti-carcinogenic properties it possesses.

Almost all parts of the Neem tree, especially its leaves, twigs, and roots, are commonly utilized in traditional Asian medicine. [2]

So powerful and effective are the therapeutic properties of Neem that nearly all villages in India have traditionally had at least one Neem tree so that villagers could seek prompt treatments for managing their symptoms.

This is also the reason why Neem is sometimes called ‘the village pharmacy’.

Active Biochemical Compounds of Neem

Some of the most important active constituents of Neem include:

  • Nimbolinin
  • Nimbidin
  • Nimbin
  • Nimbidol
  • Salannin
  • Gedunin
  • Quercetin

The contraceptive effects of Neem can be primarily attributed to the presence of these compounds in the leaves, bark, flowers, and roots of this plant.

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The Mechanism of Action of Neem as a Natural Contraceptive

Prevents ovulation

The extract of Neem flower consumed once every day, preferably in the morning, could significantly reduce the number of eggs released by the ovaries during the ovulation phase of menstrual cycles. [3]

The unavailability of an egg prevents the process of fertilization thus preventing conception.

Alters hormonal balance

Research has demonstrated that Neem oil can alter the balance of female reproductive hormones – estrogen and progesterone – during different phases of the menstrual cycle. The changes in the hormonal balance can create unfavorable internal conditions within the uterus thus impairing the fertility of women. [4]

These benefits are associated with oral intake as well as intrauterine application of Neem oil.

Spermicidal effect

The intrauterine administration of Neem oil can produce an immediate spermicidal effect. Sperms become totally immotile within just 30 seconds of coming in contact with pure and undiluted Neem oil.

The spermicide property of neem oil makes it a safe and effective contraception that just needs to be applied intravaginally before intercourse for the prevention of pregnancy.

Single-use long-term contraception

There is scientific evidence showing that the intrauterine administration of neem oil in a single dose could induce infertility and inhibit conception for a period ranging between 107 and 180 days.

The contraceptive effect, thus induced, is also reversible. This means women can regain their fertility after about 6 months of the intrauterine administration of Neem oil if they wish to plan motherhood.

The intrauterine use of Neem as a single-use long-term contraception is also considered safe as it can allow women to conceive naturally and have a healthy pregnancy once the contraceptive effect wears off after 6 months.

Also, this form of contraception does not interfere with ovarian functions. It works only locally to prevent conception without causing any imbalances in the levels of hormones in the body. [5]

Affects follicle selection

The oral administration of Neem oil has been found to provide additional protection by interfering with the process of follicle selection.

The oral administration of Neem extract, preferably in the morning, has been found to cause disruptions in the process of follicle selection by inducing follicular atresia. The term follicular atresia refers to the degenerative changes that hamper the growth and development of follicles in the ovaries. As a result, very few follicles are eventually developed into the ovum during ovulation thus reducing the chances of successful fertilization following intercourse. [6]

This action of Neem oil can be attributed to its ability to modify the activities of the endocrine system due to which the levels of hormones that play a role in conception including follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone are affected.

Emergency contraceptive

What makes Neem oil a versatile contraceptive is it can also be used as emergency contraception after intercourse.

Research has discovered that neem can produce an anti-implantation and abortifacient effect when applied intravaginally between the 2nd and the 7th day of expected pregnancy.

This means women can use Neem oil intravaginally after unplanned sex to prevent conception. The anti-implantation property of Neem oil would help to inhibit the implantation of the zygote that has already been formed after intercourse as a result of the fertilization of an egg and sperm.

The abortifacient property of Neem would help to disintegrate the zygote thus reducing the possibility of conception further.

Moreover, the anti-fertility effect of Neem oil, when used as emergency contraception, lasts only for a month. This means there is complete reversibility in the woman’s fertility after a month of using this herb. It has been found to produce no adverse effect on the subsequent pregnancy and the baby. [7]

Alternative to a vasectomy

Research has revealed that the regular use of Neem oil by women could be an effective alternative to a vasectomy. Vasectomy is a surgical sterilization procedure performed for inhibiting the release of sperm in men for preventing conception in the female partner. This action of Neem could be attributed to the presence of natural spermicidal compounds in this herb. [8] [9]

Additional contraception benefits of Neem

In addition to the versatile effect of Neem oil on different parameters involved in the process of fertilization and conception discussed above, this powerful herb also causes a few other bodily changes that can help to prevent pregnancy.

For example; the regular oral use of neem oil could disrupt the secretion and release of reproductive hormones such as estrogens, progestins, and androgens secreted by the cells in the ovaries. Moreover, Neem oil can also affect the levels of fertility regulators such as luteinization stimulator, oocyte maturation inhibitor, luteinization inhibitor, and follicle-stimulating hormone inhibitor.

These properties of Neem oil can complement the primary contraceptive properties of this herb thereby reducing the chances of successful conception significantly.

What Are the Side Effects of Neem Oil?

Neem oil is considered safe and effective when used for the purpose of contraception or the management of any illness. In fact, it can also help to prevent sexually transmitted infections by acting as a powerful antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral agent.

The topical use of Neem oil via intravaginal or intrauterine routes may cause a few mild to moderate side effects such as vaginal and rectal irritation, and genital dryness and burning, especially in women with sensitive skin.

Some rare cases of urinary and vaginal infection have also been reported following the topical application of Neem oil. However, these side effects could be associated with the lack of optimum hygiene and aseptic precautions adopted during the application of the oil.

Another drawback of Neem oil is it gives off a strong pungent scent. However, the smell can be easily masked by spraying scented essential oils such as lavender or rose oil in the bedroom. Also, most couples tend to get used to the smell within a few days.

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How to Use Neem Oil for Contraception?

Neem oil can be used for contraception both orally or intravaginally.

For oral use: Consume one tablespoon of Neem extract in the form of powder or capsules. Usually, a dose of one or two tablespoons of Neem powder or 1 or 2 capsules of Neem extract is recommended. Alternatively, you can chew 4 to 5 neem leaves once a day.

For intravaginal use: Simply dip a cotton ball in neem oil and gently insert it into the vagina. Allow it to stay in place for about 2 minutes, and then, remove it. The one-time use of neem oil in this manner will create a temporary spermicidal effect and prevent pregnancy for a duration of up to 4 to 6 hours.

Conclusion

There is scientific evidence suggesting that the use of Neem oil could be a safe and effective alternative to modern methods of contraception. Neem oil could be an “ideal” female contraceptive, being safer, effective, easily available, non-toxic, and cheap.

It can be used as a natural anti-fertility herb orally in the form of Neem oil capsules or powder or applied via the intravaginal or intrauterine routes to derive the contraceptive benefits.

These benefits indicate why Neem is called a versatile contraceptive.

References:

1. Kharwar RN, Sharma VK, Mishra A, Kumar J, Singh DK, Verma SK, Gond SK, Kumar A, Kaushik N, Revuru B, Kusari S. Harnessing the Phytotherapeutic Treasure Troves of the Ancient Medicinal Plant Azadirachta indica (Neem) and Associated Endophytic Microorganisms. Planta Med. 2020 Sep;86(13-14):906-940. doi: 10.1055/a-1107-9370. Epub 2020 Mar 3. PMID: 32126583.

2. Lakshmi T, Krishnan V, Rajendran R, Madhusudhanan N. Azadirachta indica: A herbal panacea in dentistry – An update. Pharmacogn Rev. 2015 Jan-Jun;9(17):41-4. doi: 10.4103/0973-7847.156337. PMID: 26009692; PMCID: PMC4441161.

3. Gbotolorun SC, Osinubi AA, Noronha CC, Okanlawon AO. Antifertility potential of Neem flower extract on adult female Sprague-Dawley rats. Afr Health Sci. 2008 Sep;8(3):168-73. PMID: 19357745; PMCID: PMC2583274.

4. Riar SS, Devakumar C, Sawhney RC, Ilavazhagan G, Bardhan J, Kain AK, Thomas P, Singh R, Singh B, Parshad R. Antifertility activity of volatile fraction of neem oil. Contraception. 1991 Sep;44(3):319-26. doi: 10.1016/0010-7824(91)90021-7. PMID: 1764946.

5. Upadhyay SN, Kaushic C, Talwar GP. Antifertility effects of neem (Azadirachta indica) oil by single intrauterine administration: a novel method for contraception. Proc Biol Sci. 1990 Dec 22;242(1305):175-9. doi: 10.1098/rspb.1990.0121. PMID: 1983033.

6. Zhou J, Peng X, Mei S. Autophagy in Ovarian Follicular Development and Atresia. Int J Biol Sci. 2019 Jan 29;15(4):726-737. doi: 10.7150/ijbs.30369. PMID: 30906205; PMCID: PMC6429023.

7. Zhou J, Peng X, Mei S. Autophagy in Ovarian Follicular Development and Atresia. Int J Biol Sci. 2019 Jan 29;15(4):726-737. doi: 10.7150/ijbs.30369. PMID: 30906205; PMCID: PMC6429023.

8. Subapriya R, Nagini S. Medicinal properties of neem leaves: a review. Curr Med Chem Anticancer Agents. 2005 Mar;5(2):149-6. doi: 10.2174/1568011053174828. PMID: 15777222.

9. National Research Council (US) Panel on Neem. Neem: A Tree For Solving Global Problems. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1992. PMID: 25121266.

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