Commercial antioxidants help improve male fertility
Commercial antioxidants, such as L‐carnitine and acetyl‐L‐carnitine (LAL), increase the quality of sperm in infertile men with high levels of reactive oxidative species (ROS) at baseline, as shown in a study.
The study included 44 infertile men (mean age, 40 years) with reduced sperm function. Fifteen of them had abnormally elevated semen ROS levels (>10 RLU/SEC/106 sperm), measured using a colorimetric-luminol method. All participants received a 3‐month course of daily LAL.
LAL had a null effect on semen volume, sperm count, total and progressive sperm motility, or sperm morphology in the group of men with normal ROS levels (≤10 RLU/SEC/106 sperm; n=29). Semen ROS levels increased by about twofold following treatment, but the change was not significant (from 1.4 to 2.6 RLU/SEC/106 sperm; p=0.22).
In the high ROS group, LAL therapy conferred multiple benefits. Semen ROS decreased by fivefold (from 55.2 to 10.6; p=0.0001) and sperm count increased by 50 percent (from 21.5 to 32.6 mill/ml; p=0.0005). There was also a 30-percent rise seen in sperm motility, both total (from 29.8 percent to 39.4 percent; p=0.004) and progressive (from 23.1 percent to 30.0 percent; p=0.014).
None of the patients developed any side effects from the antioxidant therapy.
The present data suggest that a commercially available LAL preparation improves sperm count and total and progressive motility while dramatically reducing semen ROS levels in infertile men with high semen ROS levels.
Furthermore, antioxidant therapy is relatively safe, inexpensive, and widely available compared with empirical hormonal therapies such as aromatase inhibitors and selective oestrogen receptor modulators. However, indiscriminate overuse of antioxidants is discouraged.