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Other Names:

Coton Velu, Cotonnier Herbacé, Cottonseed Oil Extract, Extrait d’Huile de Coton, Gosipol, Gossypium herbaceum, Gossypium hirsutum, Karpasa.

GOSSYPOL Side Effects
GOSSYPOL Interactions
GOSSYPOL Overview Information

Gossypol is a substance that is found in the cotton plant. It is removed from the seeds and used for medicine.

Men take gossypol for birth control. Women take it for disorders of the uterus including endometriosis, abnormal bleeding, and cancer; as well as for ovarian cancer. Gossypol is also used for treating HIV/AIDS.

Sometimes women use gossypol cream or gel as birth control. It is applied to the inside of the vagina to kill sperm.

How does it work?

Gossypol interferes with sperm development and function.

GOSSYPOL Uses & Effectiveness What is this?

Possibly Effective for:

  • Male contraception (birth control), when taken by mouth. Taking gossypol by mouth seems to reduce sperm count and function in 60% to 100% of men. In 50% to 77% of men, sperm recover within 3-24 months after treatment is stopped. In about 10% of men, sperm counts remain very low for over 4.5 years. In some men, continual use of gossypol can cause permanent loss of the ability to father a child.

Insufficient Evidence for:

  • Cancer. Early research suggests that taking gossypol by mouth does not help shrink tumors in people with advanced cancer.
  • Problems of the uterus (womb) and ovaries.
  • Killing sperm, when applied inside the vagina.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of gossypol for these uses.

GOSSYPOL Side Effects & Safety

Gossypol is POSSIBLY UNSAFE for use without close supervision by a healthcare professional. When men take gossypol by mouth, the effects on sperm are unpredictable and might cause permanent inability to father a child (sterility) with long-term use. When women take gossypol by mouth, it might be toxic to cells lining the uterus and could prevent normal function of the ovaries.

Gossypol can also cause loss of energy, changes in appetite, decreased sexual desire (libido), changes in body potassium levels, and digestive tract problems. High doses of gossypol (100 times the dose used for birth control) can cause malnutrition, blood circulation problems, heart failure, changes in hair color, and other problems.

There isn't enough information to know whether gossypol is safe to use directly on the skin. It can cause a burning sensation.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: It’s LIKELY UNSAFE to take gossypol if you are pregnant. It might cause a miscarriage. It is POSSIBLY UNSAFE to take gossypol if you are breast-feeding.

Low potassium levels (hypokalemia): Gossypol may make low potassium levels worse. Avoid using it if you have this condition.

Urinary tract irritation: Gossypol may make urinary tract irritation worse. Avoid using it if you have this condition.

GOSSYPOL Interactions What is this?

Moderate Interaction Be cautious with this combination

  • Digoxin (Lanoxin) interacts with GOSSYPOL

    Large amounts of gossypol can decrease potassium levels in the body. Low potassium levels can increase the side effects of digoxin (Lanoxin).

  • NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) interacts with GOSSYPOL

    NSAIDs are anti-inflammatory medications used for decreasing pain and swelling. NSAIDs can cause irritation to the stomach and intestines. Gossypol can also cause irritation to the stomach and intestines. Taking NSAIDs along with gossypol might increase the chances of adverse effects. Avoid taking NSAIDs and gossypol together.
    Some NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin, others), indomethacin (Indocin), naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn), piroxicam (Feldene), aspirin, and others.

  • Stimulant laxatives interacts with GOSSYPOL

    Stimulant laxatives speed up the bowels. Overuse of stimulant laxatives can cause low minerals in the body. Gossypol can also decrease minerals in the body. Do not take gossypol along with stimulant laxatives.

  • Theophylline interacts with GOSSYPOL

    Theophylline might decrease some of the effects of gossypol.

  • Warfarin (Coumadin) interacts with GOSSYPOL

    Gossypol can work as a laxative. In some people gossypol can cause diarrhea. Diarrhea can increase the effects of warfarin and increase the risk of bleeding. If you take warfarin do not to take excessive amounts of gossypol.

  • Water pills (Diuretic drugs) interacts with GOSSYPOL

    Large amounts of gossypol can decrease potassium levels in the body. "Water pills" can also decrease potassium in the body. Taking gossypol along with "water pills" might decrease potassium in the body too much.
    Some "water pills" that can deplete potassium include chlorothiazide (Diuril), chlorthalidone (Thalitone), furosemide (Lasix), hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ, HydroDiuril, Microzide), and others.


The following doses have been studied in scientific research:


  • For male birth control: 15-20 mg is used daily for 12-16 weeks, followed by a maintenance dose of 7.5-10 mg per day. Treatment should be carefully monitored by a healthcare professional, because the effects of gossypol are unpredictable and might lead to permanent loss of the ability to father a child.

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Conditions of Use and Important Information: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version. © Therapeutic Research Faculty 2009.

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