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Gossypol is commonly derived from cotton (Gossypium spp.)

It was identified as an infertility agent in China during the 1950s.

It is a potentially toxic phenolic pigment.

US production is 50,000 tons p.a. as a by-product of cottonseed oil production.

Gossypol is nonsteroidal and acts by inhibiting sperm production and motility. It does not affect sex hormone levels or libido.

It targets a specific enzyme (lactate dehydrogenase X).

The usual daily dose is 20 mg for 2 - 3 months with maintenance doses of 75 - 100 mg twice a month. (3 g p.a.)

This effect may be permanent i.e. sterility.

However, it is also effective as a topic spermicide.

It has also shown activity against HIV and herpes viruses.


Facts and Comparisons. The Lawrence Review of Natural Products. Nov, 1994.

Prusoff, W et al., Empirical and rational approaches for development of inhibitors of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1). Pharmacol. Ther. 1993, 60:315-329.

Wichmann, K et al., Inhibiting herpes simplex virus type 2 infection in human epithelial cells by gossypol, a potent spermicidal and contraceptive agent. Am. J. Obstet. Gyn. 1982, 142:593.

Wu: An overview of the clinical pharmacology and therapeutic potential of gossypol as a male contraceptive agent and in gynecological disease. Drugs, 1989, 38:333.