• Sperm Motility
Male infertility, the inability of a man to produce a pregnancy in a woman, is often caused by measurable deficits in sperm function or sperm count. In about half of all cases, however, the source of the problem is never discovered.
The good news is that, without any treatment at all, about 25% of supposedly infertile men bring about a pregnancy within a year of the time they first visit a physician for treatment. In other words, infertility is often only low fertility in disguise.
Proposed Treatments for Male Infertility
Growing, if not entirely consistent evidence, suggests that various forms of the supplement
may improve sperm function and thereby provide benefit in male infertility.
For example, in one double-blind study, 60 men with abnormal sperm function were given either carnitine (as L-carnitine 2 g/day and acetyl-L-carnitine 1 g/day) or placebo for 6 months.
A similarly sized 6-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, which involved men with low sperm counts, found benefits with carnitine (again as L-carnitine 2 g/day and acetyl-L-carnitine at 1 g/day) taken alone or carnitine combined with the anti-inflammatory drug cinnoxicam.
In addition, a 2-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study of 100 men with various forms of infertility found probable benefits with 2 g daily of L-carnitine.
Zinc Plus Folate
Another study also found potential benefit with zinc plus folate.
Vitamin B 12
Mild vitamin B
deficiencies are relatively common in people over 60.
In one double-blind study of 375 infertile men, supplementation with vitamin B
produced no benefits on average in the group as a whole.
For more information, including dosage and safety issues, see the full
Free radicals, dangerous chemicals found naturally in the body, may damage sperm. For this reason, a number of studies have evaluated the benefits of
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 110 men whose sperm showed subnormal activity, daily treatment with 100 IU of
Preliminary studies suggest that
According to one small double-blind study, the antioxidant carotenoid
A major pharmaceutical company is currently testing a miscellaneous mixture of antioxidants, and reporting success for male infertility.
Other Herbs and Supplements
In a double-blind trial of 28 men with impaired sperm activity, use of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a component of
Many other substances have been suggested as treatments for poor sperm function and infertility, including the herbs
In addition, all of the treatments listed in the article on
Herbs and Supplements to Use Only With Caution
One report claims that both
According to a preliminary double-blind study, the supplement
3. Kumamoto Y, Maruta H, Ishigami J, et al. Clinical efficacy of mecobalamin in treatment of oligozoospermia: results of double-blind comparative clinical study [in Japanese; English abstract]. Hinyokika Kiyo. 1988;34:1109-1132.
8. Rolf C, Cooper TG, Yeung CH, et al. Antioxidant treatment of patients with asthenozoospermia or moderate oligoasthenozoospermia with high-dose vitamin C and vitamin E: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study. Hum Reprod. 1999;14:1028-1033.
15. Vicari E. Effectiveness of a short-term anti-oxidative high-dose therapy on IVF program outcome in infertile male patients with previous excessive sperm Radical Oxygen Species production persistent even following antimicrobials administered for epididymitis: preliminary results. In: International Meeting on Infertility and Assisted Reproductive Technology; June 11-14, 1997; Porto Cervo, Italy.
16. Vicari E, Cerri L, Cataldo T, et al. Effectiveness of single and combined antioxidant therapy in patients with astheno-necrozoospermia from non-bacterial epididymitis: effects after acetyl-carnitine or carnitine-acetyl-carnitine. Presented at: 12th National Conference, Italian Andrology Association; June 9-12, 1999; Copanello, Italy.
21. Kumar R, Gupta NP. Lycopene therapy in idiopathic male infertility: results of a clinical trial [abstract]. Presented at: 34th Annual Conference of the Urological Society of India; January 18-21, 2001; Nagpur, India.
28. Gonzales GF, Cordova A, Vega K. Effect of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a root with aphrodisiac and fertility-enhancing properties, on serum reproductive hormone levels in adult healthy men. J Endocrinol. 2003;176:163-168.
29. Gardner-Thorpe D, O'Hagen C, Young I, et al. Dietary supplements of soya flour lower serum testosterone concentrations and improve markers of oxidative stress in men. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2003;57:100-106.
32. Lenzi A, Sgro P, Salacone P, et al. A placebo-controlled double-blind randomized trial of the use of combined l-carnitine and l-acetyl-carnitine treatment in men with asthenozoospermia. Fertil Steril. 2004;81:1578-1584.
33. Cavallini G, Ferraretti AP, Gianaroli L, et al. Cinnoxicam and L-carnitine/acetyl-L-carnitine treatment for idiopathic and varicocele-associated oligoasthenospermia. J Androl. 2004;25:761-770; discussion 771-772.
34. Lenzi A, Sgro P, Salacone P, et al. A placebo-controlled double-blind randomized trial of the use of combined l-carnitine and l-acetyl-carnitine treatment in men with asthenozoospermia. Fertil Steril. 2004;81:1578-1584.
35. Cavallini G, Ferraretti AP, Gianaroli L, et al. Cinnoxicam and L-carnitine/acetyl-L-carnitine treatment for idiopathic and varicocele-associated oligoasthenospermia. J Androl. 2004;25:761-770; discussion 771-772.
39. Zavaczki Z, Szollosi J, Kiss SA, et al. Magnesium-orotate supplementation for idiopathic infertile male patients: a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical pilot study. Magnes Res. 2003;16:131-136.
40. Akdogan M, Ozguner M, Kocak A, et al. Effects of peppermint teas on plasma testosterone, follicle-stimulating hormone, and luteinizing hormone levels and testicular tissue in rats. Urology. 2004;64:394-398.
44. Garolla A, Maiorino M, Roverato A, et al. Oral carnitine supplementation increases sperm motility in asthenozoospermic men with normal sperm phospholipid hydroperoxide glutathione peroxidase levels. Fertil Steril. 2005;83:355-361.
45. Balercia G, Regoli F, Armeni T, et al. Placebo-controlled double-blind randomized trial on the use of L-carnitine, L-acetylcarnitine, or combined L-carnitine and L-acetylcarnitine in men with idiopathic asthenozoospermia. Fertil Steril. 2005;84:662-671.
47. Chung F, Rubio J, Gonzales C, et al. Dose-response effects of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) aqueous extract on testicular function and weight of different organs in adult rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005;98:143-147.
53. Tremellen K, Miari G, Froiland D, et al. A randomised control trial examining the effect of an antioxidant (Menevit) on pregnancy outcome during IVF-ICSI treatment. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol. 2007;47:216-221.
Last reviewed April 2009 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
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