Does Stevia Cause Infertility?

Does Stevia Cause Infertility?

There has been a lot of debate in recent months as to whether or not Stevia can cause infertility. While Stevia is being touted as the “new” sugar substitute of choice, it is interesting to note that this all natural sweetener has been used for more than 1,500 years with little (if any) side effects.

So, why all the hype regarding Stevia’s ability to alter a woman’s fertility? The answer to that questions stems from two sources:

  • Someone mentioning that women in Paraguay use extracts from the Stevia plant as a contraceptive
  • A 32 year old study which cited that Stevia does indeed offer a contraceptive effect.

That begs the question, if Stevia can indeed prohibit a pregnancy, why hasn’t more research been done to see if it can be used to develop better and safer contraceptives for women? The answer to that question is “It has!”

Since the first study performed in Uruguay was released in the 1960’s, there have been countless other studies completed which contradict its findings. But, first let’s talk about the two main studies used by the FDA to keep Stevia from becoming a common sweetener in American homes.

The Kruc Study
In 1968, Professor Joseph Kruc, a member of Purdue University’s department of biochemistry conducted a study of Stevia at the University of the Republic in Montevideo. Giving a small number of rats very high doses of stevia, it was concluded that the rats given the herbal extract produced less offspring than those who were not.

The problem, even Kruc admits today, is that the rats in the study were given such high doses of Stevia for such a short period of time, that even if it did cause the fertility problems noted, it could have been because of an overdose of the compound. People ingesting Stevia as a sweetener would never be able to consume such a large amount in such a short period of time.

Another concern Kruc admits is that there is no evidence to show that the reaction experienced by the rats would also be experienced by humans.

The Alvarez Study
In 1988, professor Mauro Alvarez of Brazil’s University of Maringa Foundation, repeated the study, reporting in a Brazilian pharmaceutical journal that female mice given Stevia experienced a contraceptive effect similar to those reported by Kruc.

The problem with the results, argue critics is that the Alvarez study lacks the information and analysis required by such a research study and can not be considered valid. According to the Herb Research Foundation the study lacks any credibility at all and should be disregarded.

Even Alvarez himself now claims that further research has led him to believe that Stevia is completely safe for human consumption.

Despite the problems with both studies, the FDA continues to use them as their main source against Stevia.

More Recent Research
Many other researchers have take on the task of proving that Stevia is a safe natural sweetener, which offers no detrimental health or fertility effects to its users. Dozens of researchers throughout the United States and Europe have studied the herbal extract, but to date have found no evidence that it causes any of the problems cited in the earlier reports.

In 1999, the primate research center of Chulalonhkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand gave high doses of Stevia to both male and female hamsters to see if their fertility would be affected. Even though 2,500 mg a day was administered ( a human dose is about 2 mg), there was no evidence of decreased fertility.

Then in 2008, researchers reported in the Journal of Endocrinology and Reproduction (vol 12, 2008) that Stevia rebaudiana had absolutely no adverse effects on the fertility of female mice.

The same conclusion has been reached in a number of other studies including those conducted by The Herb Research Foundation, Medicinal Plant Research of the USDA and The Division of Pathology, National Institutes of Health, Japan.

So, what’s the bottom line?
It seems that these two research studies, dating back almost 40 years, had kept the FDA from approving Stevia as a common sweetener, due to concerns about its effects on both male and female fertility. Dozens of further research studies show no evidence for concern.

Plus, there is some question as to why pharmaceutical companies worldwide have not used Stevia, a completely safe herbal extract, to develop better and more effective contraceptives if indeed it holds these properties. The answer may lie in the fact that it simply doesn’t.

Today, Stevia is sold in almost all grocery stores in both liquid and powdered form, as a sugar substitute.

Conclusion
Our conclusion? At this point, there is no evidence to support the claim that Stevia can – or does – cause a decrease in fertility for either men or women. Stevia may be a very useful herb for women who have PCOS and are seeking an alternative to using sugar in their diets. In short it seems that most modern day research shows no evidence that Stevia will decrease your fertility or that it can be used for contraceptive purposes. While this all-natural sweetener appears safe for human conception, it is important to note that if you personally are worried that it could have an impact to your fertility it is best to avoid it. After all, the stress of wondering whether or not it is keeping you from getting pregnant could in itself impede conception.

Resources
1. Science, (vol 162, Nov. 1968)
2. Journal of Endocrinology and Reproduction (Vol. 12, 2008)
3. The Stevia Cookbook, 199 by Ray Sahelian MD and Suan Gates

Comments

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[-] 9 Comments
  1. Hello! I wanted to let readers know that for the last 3yrs I have been unable to consume ANY form of sugar/sweeteners, including honey, maple syrup, etc. My body developed some sort of crazy reaction to ALL sugars/sweeteners, so I live life reading ingredients list! My entire diet revolves around adding 100% pure Stevia powder to anything I want sweetened.

    BUT during this time, I breastfed DS for 22mths, (all started after he was born…could eat all sugars before that); lost over 40lbs; in Feb.2014 conceived baby #2, and am having a very healthy pregnancy. I’m due Nov.2014…a purely STEVIA baby! My family doctor and midwives have never expressed concerns about my Stevia intake.

  2. Hi! I’d like to read this study: “Then in 2008, researchers reported in the Journal of Endocrinology and Reproduction (vol 12, 2008) that Stevia rebaudiana had absolutely no adverse effects on the fertility of female mice.”
    Could you provide me with a link to the study so that I can read the entire study, not just the conclusion of the author of this article? Thank you

  3. Hello! I realize this article was published years ago, and wonder if your stance on this has changed at all. I’ve been looking into Trim Healthy Mama, which uses stevia and erythritol in place of sugar. Many women on the plan have experienced miscarriages while using stevia, even though they’ve had healthy pregnancies before. The number of women reporting miscarriages is concerning.
    I’d just like to know if you’ve heard of this or know anything about it. Thanks!

    • Elizabeth Willett, MA, CH

      Hello Jennifer!

      Thank you for asking!

      Our stance on consuming Stevia while trying to conceive has not changed since publication of this article.

      I am not familiar with Trim Healthy Mama and the entirety of this plan, so am unable to speak to the results of the women on the plan.

      Best wishes!

  4. Update 2014 – We are back! We have been away for a while and we sure have missed all of your wonderful questions and thoughts on our articles. Moving forward, one of our staff herbalists will be here to respond to comments! We look forward to connecting with our readers once again!

  5. I got pregnant with triplets naturally while using stevia as my only sweetener! It was an unplanned pregnancy (yet completely welcomed) and we were using protection:) Obviously does not impede fertility!

  6. Hi,

    I do like stevia. I do know that stevia is a natural sweetner and also a natural herb. I have stevia in a kitchen in my home. I haven’t consumed stevia for a while. I usually consume some xylitol and some sugar in iced tea that I made from Lipton or another brand of iced tea. I do drink some water, but I really should have drink more water though. Is that true that stevia would cause an infertility? James and I are newlyweds and we will be married for 4 years in October. We have been trying to conceive since November or December of 2007. I have been under a lot of emotional stress as I do know that causes an infertility. Please let me know if you do believe that when both a woman and a man do consume certain amount of stevia from iced tea and other foods as it would cause some infertility. I am a nature sunshine distributor; I learned about stevia and xylitol through nature sunshine wellness company.

    Have a great weekend! May God be with you always!

    Teresa Hewitt

    • Hi Theresa,

      This article states the following conclusion….dozens of further research studies show no evidence for concern……….At this point, there is no evidence to support the claim that Stevia can – or does – cause a decrease in fertility for either men or women.

      Have a great day,

      Dalene