Are you a man considering using antioxidant supplements for boosting your fertility? You may want to forget those, as new research suggests that they offer no help.
The new study funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) revealed that these products do not improve semen quality in infertile men.
In addition, researchers found that supplements may not boost the chances of pregnancy or increase live birth rates.
The findings appeared recently in the journal Fertility and Sterility.
Antioxidant supplements useless against male infertility
The study is based on the Males, Antioxidants, and Infertility (MOXI) Trial. This double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial was carried out at nine locations in the United States.
The researchers recruited 171 couples for the study. The male participants had at least one sperm-related issue, while the fertility statuses of their female partners were normal.
The men used an antioxidant supplement or a placebo for between three and six months. These products included vitamins C, E, and D. They also featured nutrients such as lycopene, folic acid, selenium, zinc, and the amino acid derivative L-Carnitine.
Researchers randomly assigned the men to receive a formulation containing a combination of the nutrients or the placebo. There were 85 men in the treatment group and 86 in the placebo group.
After three months of supplement use, the male subjects failed to show any improvement in fertility. The sperm shape, concentration, mobility, and DNA quality of those who received antioxidants were not statistically different from those of counterparts in the placebo group.
Supplements may not boost pregnancy and live birth rates
Pregnancy and live birth rates were secondary outcomes in this study.
For the first three months, the couples were encouraged to try to conceive naturally. Clomiphene citrate with intrauterine insemination was then used on female partners during the next three months.
The researchers found that antioxidant supplements did not seem to have any desirable effects on pregnancy and live birth rates.
The products failed to add to live birth rates at six months. The rate was 15 percent in the antioxidant group and 24 percent in the placebo group.
However, researchers in the study noted that they could not read much to the findings on pregnancy and live birth rates. This is because they stopped enrolling subjects before getting the preferred number since the antioxidant group failed to show any improvement.
The team only had a sufficient number of subjects to assess possible changes in semen quality.
The MOXI trial was supported by the Reproductive Medicine Network of the NICHD, an institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
According to the researchers, MOXI is the biggest placebo controlled, randomized trial to study the effects of antioxidant supplements on fertility in men without including assisted reproductive technology.