Couples who haven’t conceived after trying for at least one year of regular, unprotected intercourse often start on a roller coaster ride of fertility therapy. The infertility process usually starts by focusing on the woman. But John E. Gould, M.D., Ph.D.—a urologist and male infertility specialist at the Northern California Fertility Medical Center in Sacramento—believes it‘s simpler to determine if the man’s sperm are healthy, before spending an inordinate amount of time checking out a woman’s fertility issues.
Sperm are highly sensitive to oxidative stress from free radicals, which can result in DNA damage and loss of motility (movement).1 “Male factor” infertility can account for more than 50% of the problems, says Gould.
The good news is that several new studies suggest that the antioxidant co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10) may help improve the odds for men with less-than-healthy sperm impregnating their partners.
CoQ10 is present in seminal fluid and its concentration has a direct impact on sperm count and motility. The effect of CoQ10 on sperm motility and function had been addressed only through in vitro experiments until a group of Italian researchers did two studies on infertile men. CoQ10 increased significantly both in seminal plasma and sperm cells after treatment, as well as spermatozoa motility.
Patients with lower CoQ10 levels and lower motility had a stronger response to the treatment, leading researchers to conclude that CoQ10 supplements help increase CoQ10 levels in semen and improve sperm motility in infertile men.2
Researchers at Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran, Iran, recruited 212 infertile men and randomly assigned them to receive a daily CoQ10 supplement or placebo for 26 weeks. This was followed by 30 weeks with no intervention.
The study, which appears in the current issue of Journal of Urology (July 2009), found that there was significant improvement in sperm counts, density and motility in infertile men, after they took 300 mg of CoQ10 for 56 weeks.
Author Mohammad Reza Safarinejad wrote that the statistically significant but modest results of the study suggest that CoQ10 may have “potential clinical applications in infertile men.” The researcher called for further studies to evaluate if CoQ10 supplementation may play a role in achieving pregnancy in infertile couples.3
In a recent study at the Polytechnic University of Marche, Ancona, Italy, 60 infertile men between the ages of 27 and 39 were given a daily dose of 200 mg of CoQ10 or placebo for 6 months, with a 3-month follow-up. CoQ10 increased significantly in both seminal plasma and sperm cells after treatment. It also improved sperm motility.4
CoQ10 has a proven track record of supporting heart health. Now, men with fertility issues can also feel confident that CoQ10 supplementation can help support their chances of having a child.
- Aitken RJ, Gordon E, Harkiss D, Twigg JP, Milne P, Jennings Z, Irvine DS. Relative impact of oxidative stress on the functional competence and genomic integrity of human spermatozoa. BiolReprod. 1998 Nov;59(5):1037-46.
- Balercia G, Mancini A, Paggi F, Tiano L, Pontecorvi A, Boscaro M, Lenzi A, Littarru GP. COENZYME Q10 AND MALE INFERTILITY. J Endocrinol Invest. 2009 May 21. [Epub ahead of print]
- Safarinejad, M.R., ?Efficacy of Coenzyme Q10 on Semen Parameters, Sperm Function and Reproductive Hormones in Infertile Men. J Urol. 2009 Jul;182(1):237-48. Epub 2009 May 17 .
- Balercia G, Buldreghini E, Vignini A, Tiano L, Paggi F, Amoroso S, Ricciardo-Lamonica G, Boscaro M, Lenzi A, Littarru G. Coenzyme Q10 treatment in infertile men with idiopathic asthenozoospermia: a placebo-controlled, double-blind randomized trial. Fertil Steril. 2009 May;91(5):1785-92. Epub 2008 Apr 8.