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Antioxidant Supplementation for Males with Subfertility May Increase Chance of Pregnancy

Many couples experience trouble with conceiving a child. The cause may be due to the women or the man. Some male infertility may be caused by damage to the sperm from a variety of causes. Oxidative stress, caused by free radicals, is thought to be one cause. Antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables and supplements are believed to counteract the effects of free radicals and decrease oxidative stress.

Researchers from the Cochrane database reviewed several past studies to examine the benefits of antioxidants for men with subfertility. The review, published in the Cochrane Database, found that men that took antioxidant supplementation had increased rates of successful pregnancy.

About the Study

The systematic review included 34 previous randomized trials with 2,876 couples seeking fertility assistance. The men had low fertility levels and were assigned to an antioxidant supplement or placebo. The couples with the men that took antioxidant supplementation had a:
  • 4.18 times greater chance of pregnancy
  • 4.85 times greater chance of live birth

How Does This Affect You?

A systematic review combines several smaller studies that sometimes have conflicting results. The careful combination of these results can increase the reliability of the outcomes. The studies reviewed in this study were of moderate to low quality. This could decrease the reliability of these particular outcomes.

While the benefits of antioxidants in other areas of health have not shown as much promise as first hoped, in the area of male subferfility the supplements have shown some benefit. While supplements were used in this study, you can also increase your antioxidants through your diet by increasing your daily fruits and vegetables. If you are having trouble conceiving a child, see your doctor about options to increase your chance of having a child. The solution may be as simple as taking a daily vitamin or eating more fruits and vegetables.

 

Resources:

References:

  • Showell MG, Brown J, Yazdani A, Stankiewicz MT, Hart RJ. Antioxidants for male subfertility. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 1.

Last reviewed February 2011 by Brian P. Randall, MD

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