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Nutrient - Antioxidants boost male fertility

By Holly Taylor BSC(Hons) DipCNM MBANT NTCC

Around 30% to 80% of male fertility problems are thought to be due to free-radical damage to sperm. Now, evidence from a recent Cochrane review has found that antioxidants could help improve male fertility and increase the chances of a live birth. 

The systematic review of randomised controlled trials found that a woman was more likely to have a pregnancy or live birth if her male partner took certain vitamins and antioxidants. The findings suggest that in many cases of unexplained fertility problems, men who take antioxidant supplements may increase the couple’s chances of conceiving and carrying a pregnancy to term. 

To perform the review, the researchers carried out a search for trials that compared antioxidant supplements with dummy pills, no treatment or another antioxidant. The supplements had to be taken orally by the male partner in a couple seeking fertility treatment. The trials included couples with unexplained infertility or where the man had been identified as having fertility problems. The trials looked at live birth rates, pregnancy rates, miscarriage and sperm quality. 

Overall, 34 relevant trials were included in the researcher’s analysis. The results showed that in the trials reporting on live birth, antioxidant supplementation of the father prior to conception resulted in a significant increase in live birth rate. The trials recording pregnancy rate found similarly positive results with male antioxidant supplementation resulting in a significant increase in pregnancy rate. What’s more, the trials analysing sperm concentrations showed that men taking antioxidants had more antioxidants in their ejaculate than the controls, a difference that was statistically significant. 

In their conclusions, the authors state: “The evidence suggests that antioxidant supplementation in sub-fertile males may improve the outcomes of live birth and pregnancy rate for sub-fertile couples”.

Article References

Showell MG et al. Antioxidants for male subfertility. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011; Jan 19;1:CD007411.

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