Issue: March 2011
March 01, 2011
1 min read

Antioxidants may boost fertility in men

Showell MG. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011;1:CD007411.

Issue: March 2011
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Antioxidants helped subfertile men and their partners experience more live births and higher pregnancy rates when compared with those who received placebo or no antioxidants, according to recent data.

Researchers conducted a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials that examined use of antioxidants for male subfertility in couples undergoing assisted reproduction techniques. Thirty-four studies involving 2,876 couples were included in the review.

Pooled results from trials comparing antioxidant treatment with placebo, using live births as an outcome, favored the antioxidant group, with 18 live births occurring among 116 couples in the antioxidant groups vs. two births among 98 couples in the placebo groups (OR=4.85; 95% CI, 1.92-12.24). These findings were consistent with pooled data from studies specifically comparing vitamin E with placebo (OR=6.44; 95% CI, 1.72-24.04) and in those comparing zinc with no treatment (OR=3.67; 95% CI, 1-13.51).

Pregnancy rate also appeared higher among those receiving antioxidants in trials using this as an outcome. Of 515 couples in the antioxidant groups, 82 became pregnant vs. 14 in the placebo groups, with the pooled OR reaching 4.18 (95% CI, 2.65-6.59).

Further, data from several trials, including those comparing coenzyme Q10 and L-carnitine plus L-acetyl carnitine with placebo, demonstrated that antioxidants positively affected sperm fragmentation, sperm motility and sperm concentration when compared with placebo, the researchers said.

Several head-to-head comparison trials involving various outcomes found selenium superior to N-acetyl-cysteine and selenium plus N-acetyl-cysteine superior to either antioxidant alone. No statistically significant differences were noted, however, when a combination L-acetyl carnitine and L-carnitine was compared with either antioxidant alone.

Harmful adverse events associated with the antioxidants studied were not noted in any trials.

The researchers concluded that having men take oral antioxidants may improve chance of conception, although further studies are required to verify these data.

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.

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