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Antioxidant Supplements Offer No Benefit in Male Infertility

Mar 6, 2020

Semen quality, pregnancy or eventual live birth rates did not improve after supplement use by men

FRIDAY, March 6, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Antioxidants do not improve semen parameters or DNA integrity among men with male factor infertility, according to a study published online Feb. 25 in Fertility and Sterility.

Anne Z. Steiner, M.D., from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and colleagues evaluated whether antioxidants improve male fertility, as measured by semen parameters and DNA fragmentation at three months, and pregnancy resulting in live birth after up to six months of treatment among couples with male factor infertility. The analysis included 171 men seen at nine U.S. fertility centers from December 2015 to December 2018, who were randomly assigned to receive a daily antioxidant formulation (85 men) containing vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, L-carnitine, zinc, folic acid, and lycopene or placebo (86 men) for three to six months.


The researchers found that after three months of treatment, the change in sperm concentration differed between the antioxidant group (median −4.0 million/mL) and placebo group (+2.4 million/mL), but there were no statistically significant differences between the two groups for changes in sperm morphology, motility, or DNA fragmentation. Sperm concentration did not differ at three months between the two groups for the 66 oligospermic men at randomization. Sperm motility did not differ at three months for the 75 asthenospermic men. Further, DNA fragmentation did not differ at three months among the 44 men with high DNA fragmentation. Overall, cumulative live birth did not differ at six months between the antioxidant and placebo groups (15 and 24 percent, respectively).

“This study suggests that antioxidant treatment of the male partner does not improve in vivo pregnancy or live-birth rates,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

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