Okra is a green vegetable from mallow family and it is sometimes called “lady`s finger”. Though it has many health benefits and contains some vitamins and phytonutrients, it may have downside as well. For the health benefits and nutritional value of okra, click here.
A unique substance in okra is “gossypol”. It is a polyphenolic compound that is mostly found in okra seeds. Gossypol is also found in other species of the mallow family, such as cotton and cacao, with cottonseeds containing the highest concentrations.
Gossypol inhibits sperm production and motility by blocking several enzymes that are highly important in energy metabolism in sperm and sperm - producing cells. It does not affect sex hormone levels or libido. Gossypol has been used as a male contraceptive in China for many years.
Few clinical researches were conducted regarding the effectiveness of gossypol in 1986 in China and in the mid 1990s in Brazil. The studies showed that gossypol lowered the number and motility of sperms and made small percentage of men infertile permanently. After publishing the clinical findings of these studies, world health organization (WHO) recommended to put an end to these researches.