Coenzyme Q10 and Male Infertility

There is more and more evidence that Coenzyme Q10 plays a physiological role in the maintenance of semen quality [Alahmar 2021]:

  • Higher CoQ10 concentrations in seminal plasma correlate directly with elevated semen parameters such as sperm motility and sperm count.
  • Seminal CoQ10 concentrations are sub-optimal in male infertility conditions.
Pregnant woman
Infertility affects an estimated 15% of couples worldwide. Male infertility is a factor in about 50% of cases. The causes of male infertility are poorly understood, but there is evidence that oxidative stress is related to poor seminal fluid quality. Coenzyme Q10 is a powerful antioxidant, reducing levels of oxidative stress.

In a 2021 review article, Alahmar et al. [2021] summarize the research into CoQ10’s role in the regulation of male reproductive function:

  • restores semen parameters in male infertility patients
  • reduces the blood levels of biomarkers for oxidative stress
  • improves pregnancy and assisted reproductive technology outcomes
  • reduces sperm DNA fragmentation

CoQ10 Effects on Sperm Parameters

Alahmar et al. [2021] have reviewed several clinical trials of the CoQ10 supplementation of patients with male infertility. Overall, the outcomes of these studies show the following beneficial effects:

  • increased concentrations of Coenzyme Q10 in the semen and in spermatozoa
  • enhanced sperm parameters: sperm concentration, motility, and morphology
  • improved oxidative stress bio-markers and increased protection against free radical-induced sperm damage

CoQ10 Effects on Sperm DNA Fragmentation

Current evidence shows that Sperm DNA Fragmentation plays a crucial role in male infertility. Oxidative stress may be the key mechanism causing the sperm DNA fragmentation. An excess of harmful free radicals may be causing kinks and breaks in sperm DNA.

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Coenzyme Q10 and Female Infertility: Two Meta-Analyses

Compared with placebo or no-treatment, oral supplementation with Coenzyme Q10 can increase clinical pregnancy rates in women undergoing Assisted Reproductive Technology procedures [Florou 2020].

Pregnant woman
A good definition of female infertility is the failure to achieve pregnancy after 12 months of regular unprotected sexual intercourse. This failure to achieve pregnancy after 12 months of trying affects one out of six couples worldwide.

Compared to control study participants, women diagnosed with poor ovarian response undergoing controlled ovarian stimulation have better clinical outcomes in terms of pregnancy achievement and in terms of a lower dosage of gonadotrophin required for ovulation induction when Coenzyme Q10 is used as an adjuvant therapy [Zhang 2020].

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CoQ10 Supplementation to Improve Fertility in Women

Storch bringing baby
Three meta-analyses show beneficial effects of CoQ10 supplementation on semen quality, semen quantity, and semen mobility. Here, a meta-analysis of studies of CoQ10 supplementation of women with infertility shows a significant effect on clinical pregnancy rates.

A meta-analysis of five randomized controlled clinical studies (n=449 infertile women) has shown that CoQ10 supplementation increases clinical pregnancy rates compared with placebo treatment or no treatment. The CoQ10 supplementation significantly increases clinical pregnancy rates both overall and in infertility subgroups such as the poor ovarian response subgroup (n=286) and the polycystic ovarian syndrome subgroup (n=163) [Florou 2020].

All study participants were women of reproductive age (mean age 33 years) diagnosed with either poor ovarian response or polycystic ovary syndrome. All were attending an assisted reproductive technology clinic [Florou 2020].

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CoQ10 for Women with Poor Ovarian Response

Pregnant woman
The reasons for a poor ovarian response to stimulation with gonadotropins are not clear. Mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress are possible explanations for the diminished ovarian response. Coenzyme Q10 is essential for energy production in the mitochondria of oocytes and is important for antioxidant protection in oocytes.

Coenzyme Q10 pre-treatment of young low-prognosis patients with diminished ovarian reserve or poor ovarian response increased the patients’ ovarian response to stimulation and improved oocyte and embryo quality.

The CoQ10 pre-treatment was associated with improved pregnancy and live birth rates.

After one completed assisted reproductive technique treatment cycle, the women treated with Coenzyme Q10 had a 32% pregnancy rate and a 29% live birth rate. The women in the control group had a pregnancy rate of 17% and a 16% live birth rate.

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Coenzyme Q10 and Male Infertility

Data from randomized controlled trials show that Coenzyme Q10 supplementation is positively associated with improved sperm density and motility and, to a certain extent, with improved pregnancy rates.

Coenzyme Q10 supplementation results in significant improvement in various sperm parameters: sperm density, sperm motility, and sperm morphology and, quite possibly, in pregnancy rates [Safarinejad].

Actually, we have known about the benefits of Coenzyme Q10 for treating men with significant abnormalities in sperm morphology and motility for 10 – 15 years now.  Let’s have a look at the clinical research results reported in journal articles indexed by Medline.

CoQ10 and Male Infertility Associated with Abnormal Sperm Parameters

Safarinejad, M. R. (2009). Efficacy of Coenzyme Q10 on semen parameters, sperm function and reproductive hormones in infertile men. The Journal Of Urology, 182(1), 237–248.

Researchers enrolled 212 infertile men with various sperm abnormalities. Half of the patients were randomly assigned to receive 300 milligrams of Coenzyme Q10 daily, and half took matching placebos for 26 weeks.  The researchers then continued to follow the patients’ progress for a 30-week treatment-free phase.

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Coenzyme Q10 and pregnancy

male-infertility-picture
Pregnancy depends upon the sperm’s reaching the egg. Daily supplementation with Coenzyme Q10 capsules is associated with significantly improved sperm density, sperm movement, and normal sperm shape as well as with improved pregnancy rates.

What about infertility problems and Coenzyme Q10, I was asked the other day. Mightn’t the improvement of cellular energy production and the protection against oxidative stress that Coenzyme Q10 supplements give, mightn’t they also help sperm quality and sperm motility? What about Coenzyme Q10 help for the quality of female egg cells?

Coenzyme Q10 and male infertility
Nature Reviews: Urology
In 2011, Dr. Annette Fenner, chief editor at Nature Reviews: Urology, published a note to the effect that supplementation with Coenzyme Q10 improves semen quality parameters and that the improvement in the sperm has been seen to be associated with improved pregnancy rates and live birth rates [Fenner].

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