A new study from The Cochrane Library suggests that antioxidant supplements can help couples having problems having a baby the natural way. The study was backed up by trials wherein the female partners took in antioxidant supplements to increase their chances of getting pregnant.
Subfertility, a term used to refer to those who have been unsuccessful in conceiving naturally over a year. For males, in particular, male subfertility could be caused by chemicals called reactive oxygen species (ROS), which damage sperm cells. This results in lowered sperm count and difficulty to fertilize eggs. Antioxidants can be of aid as they contain natural and artificial chemicals that can help reduce the amount of ROS.
The study involved 34 trials with 2,876 participating couples undergoing fertility treatments like in vitro fertilization (IVF) and sperm injections. Majority of the males in the study had low sperm counts or low sperm motility, or the “percentage of all moving sperm in a semen sample.” Examples of the oral antioxidants used in the study were Vitamin E, L-Carnitine, magnesium and zinc.
Results showed that 964 of the couples who took antioxidants had greater chances for pregnancy and 214 couples for live birth. Sperm motility and concentration also generally improved, but within small study group sizes.
Said lead researcher Marian Showell from the Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, “"When trying to conceive as part of an assisted reproductive program, it may be advisable to encourage men to take oral antioxidant supplements to improve their partners' chances of becoming pregnant. However, these conclusions are currently based on limited evidence."
The researchers shared that there is still a need for comparative studies on the different effects of different antioxidants on conceiving.