BACKGROUND: Plant extracts can inhibit fertility by adversely affecting, directly or indirectly, reproductive processes ranging from gonadal function and development to gestation. This review focuses on plant extracts that disrupt ovarian function in rodents.
RESULTS: Extracts from at least 40 plant species exert some of their disruptive reproductive effects at the ovarian level. Of those, 13 plants induce a reduction in the number and type of ovarian follicles and also cause disruption to the oestrous cycle. Their effects are short term and reversible once treatment ceases.
CONCLUSIONS: Protection of plant extracts to prevent their degradation before uptake in the gastrointestinal tract could enhance short-term efficacy but would not enhance the longevity of their effects. Identification and further testing of the specific chemicals responsible for reproductive effects would be beneficial. The adoption of a standard protocol for treatment and assessment of the inhibitory effects of potential control agents on reproductive function in rodents is essential. Treatment with higher concentrations of extracts in conjunction with other extracts or with other chemosterilants could have potential complementary effects and lead to more rapid and permanent changes in ovarian function. An orally delivered agent(s) that causes major depletion of all follicle types, and particularly of non-regenerating primordial follicles, could be an ideal fertility control product and serve as an additional tool for population control of pest rodents. © 2012 Society of Chemical Industry