Antioxidants may improve chances of conceiving in male subfertility

Jan 19, 2011

Antioxidant supplements may benefit couples who have difficulty conceiving naturally, according to a new systematic review published today in The Cochrane Library. The review provides evidence from a small number of trials that suggest the partners of men who take antioxidants are more likely to become pregnant.

Male subfertility affects one in 20 men. Chemicals called reactive (ROS) are said to cause damage to cells, and in particular , which may result in lowered sperm counts and interfere with their ability to fertilise eggs. include natural and , including certain vitamins and minerals, which help to reduce the damage caused by ROS.

The review focused on 34 trials involving 2,876 couples undergoing assisted reproductive techniques such as in vitro fertilisation and sperm injections. Most men in the trials had low sperm counts or low sperm motility. The trials explored the use of many different types of oral antioxidants, including vitamin E, L-carnitine, zinc and magnesium.

Compared to controls, a couple was more likely to have a pregnancy or if the man took antioxidants. However, these results are based on just 964 of the couples in the review for pregnancies and 214 couples for live births. Other trials tested the effects of antioxidants on sperm motility and concentration and showed mostly positive effects, although study group sizes were small.

"When trying to conceive as part of an assisted reproductive program, it may be advisable to encourage men to take oral antioxidant supplements to improve their partners' chances of becoming pregnant," said lead researcher Marian Showell, who works in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Auckland in Auckland, New Zealand. "However, these conclusions are currently based on limited evidence."

There were not enough data comparing different antioxidants to reach any conclusions about the relative effectiveness of supplements. "We need more head-to-comparisons to understand whether any one antioxidant is performing better than any other," said Showell.

Explore further: Better living through mitochondrial derived vesicles

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Better living through mitochondrial derived vesicles

17 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—As principal transformers of bacteria, organelles, synapses, and cells, vesicles might be said to be the stuff of life. One need look no further than the rapid rise to prominence of The ...

Zebrafish help to unravel Alzheimer's disease

18 hours ago

New fundamental knowledge about the regulation of stem cells in the nerve tissue of zebrafish embryos results in surprising insights into neurodegenerative disease processes in the human brain. A new study by scientists at ...

Engineering new bone growth

20 hours ago

MIT chemical engineers have devised a new implantable tissue scaffold coated with bone growth factors that are released slowly over a few weeks. When applied to bone injuries or defects, this coated scaffold ...

User comments : 0