Are Vitamins Beneficial for Sperm and Improving Male Factor Infertility?
A recently published study in Fertility and Sterility (Vol. 113, No. 3, March 2020), “The effect of antioxidants on male factor infertility; the Males, Antioxidants and Infertility (MOXI) randomized clinical trial” (Steiner et al) evaluated whether antioxidant use would improve male fertility. The evaluation of the male factor was completed through semen analysis parameters and sperm DNA fragmentation at 3 months and pregnancy resulting in live birth after up to 6 months of treatment.
Men who had a diagnosis of male factor infertility were provided either a placebo (containing no vitamins) or a supplement containing 500 mg of vitamin C, 400 mg of vitamin E, 0.20 mg of selenium, 1,000 mg of L-carnitine, 20 mg of zinc, 1,000 mg of folic acid, and 10 mg of lycopene daily for 6 months.
The results did indicate an increase in sperm concentration for those who took the antioxidants versus the placebo group. However, no changes were noted with regards to sperm DNA fragmentation and the parameters of sperm quality, sperm morphology and motility. The study also discovered no difference amongst the placebo and antioxidant groups with regards to pregnancy and live birth rates.
Vitamins do not appear to be beneficial as a stand-alone treatment for male infertility. If there are male factor issues, then further evaluation is needed with rapid consideration of IUI or IVF treatment.
Mira Aubuchon, M.D., F.A.C.O.G.
Board Certified Reproductive Endocrinology/Infertility