A new study involving 287 infertile men suggests that the nutrient Coenzyme Q10 improves both sperm quality and pregnancy rate.
The study, published in the International Urology and Nephrology Journal, assessed men with idiopathic oligoasthenoteratozoospermia (OAT), meaning that the men had unexplained reduced sperm count and reduced sperm quality.
The trial measured the effects on pregnancy rate of supplementation with 300mg of CoQ10 twice a day for 12-months. Over the 12-month period, the overall pregnancy rate was 34.1%. In contrast, the pregnancy rate in non-supplemented infertile men during the same time is around 6.4%.
Sperm samples were also collected before and after supplementation. The results showed that supplementation with CoQ10 improved mean sperm concentration by 113.7%. It also improved motility (forward movement of the sperm) by 104.8% and raised the number of normal forms by 78.9%.
There are a number of reasons why CoQ10 may boost male fertility. In sperm cells, CoQ10 is concentrated in the midpiece of each sperm, acting as an energy promoting agent. The energy for movement and all other energy-dependent processes in the sperm cell depend on this crucial nutrient. CoQ10 is also an antioxidant, preventing lipid per oxidation thereby reducing damage to sperm membranes.
In cases where couples are having difficulty conceiving, it is very common for medical treatment to be focussed on the female partner only. This treatment pathway fails to address the health of the male partner which could be addressed with nutritional changes. It does appear that couples are short-changed when they are referred for invasive medical treatments, when nutritional changes could in fact be a far less invasive and stress-free alternative. A recent review of male subfertility concluded that “The concept of unilateral care of the female partner, which has gained momentum in the reproductive health community, especially with the advent of in vitro fertilization and intracytoplasmic sperm injection, is counterproductive, and should be discouraged.”
This trial was open-label, meaning some caution is needed in interpreting the results. However, the study will hopefully pave the way for future research in this area.
While couples may not wish to rely exclusively on nutritional supplements and dietary changes to address subfertility, this approach could be used alongside medical treatment to improve chances of success. “Medical treatment with nutraceuticals helps improve sperm parameters, and even if the response is not adequate, increases the response to assisted reproductive technology.” (2)
Coenzyme Q10 is present in beef, pork, oily fish and nuts. However, to reach therapeutic levels of this nutrient, supplementation would be necessary. The recommended dose range of CoQ10 for male subfertility is 60 mg to 200 mg daily.
Written by Nadia Mason, BSc MBANT NTCC CNHC
1. The effect of coenzyme Q10 supplementation on partner pregnancy rate in infertile men with idiopathic oligoasthenoteratozoospermia: an open-label prospective study. MR Safarinejad. Int Urol Nephrol. Vol 44, no3 (2012) 689-700.
2. S. Kalra, B. Kalra, N. Agrawal: Nutraceutical Management Of Male Subfertility: An Update . The Internet Journal of Family Practice. 2010 Volume 8 Number 2. DOI: 10.5580/1c4a
3. Image Courtesy of graur codrin