Understanding the Prescription for Healthy Conception in Men & Women

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Ultrasound using LEGOsMany of us know someone who has grappled with infertility, although only about 15 percent of couples trying to conceive don’t get pregnant as easily as they’d like.

Did you see the news report a few weeks ago about how antioxidants can help men with low sperm counts? Researchers in New Zealand reviewed more than 30 studies, focusing on men who were subfertile. Subfertility occurs when a man is less fertile than average but still capable of making a baby. While subfertility only affects about five percent of men, it is responsible for half of delayed conceptions.

Researchers believe that up to 80 percent of subfertility is due to the effects of oxidative stress on sperm cells, which lowers both their numbers and quality. They found that taking antioxidants seemed to help with fertility problems, as the men who took them were more likely to get their partner pregnant, and their partner was more likely to have a live birth.

While this is exciting data for any couple trying to conceive, the numbers of people in the combined studies was pretty small. The 34 studies combined totaled 3,000 couples undergoing fertility treatments, including in vitro fertilization and insemination – two of the more common methods of increasing conception odds when sperm-related issues are involved. All of the studies looked at the potential role of at least one antioxidant.

Based on 96 pregnancies among 964 couples in 15 of the studies, the researchers found that antioxidant use by the male partner increased the odds of conception four-fold. In the three studies that contained birth data, the men who took antioxidants improved the likelihood of their partner giving birth to a live baby by a factor of five. While this is an exciting statistic, the findings of increased live birth rates with antioxidants was based on a total of only 20 births, which is a small number.

The antioxidants used in the studies varied and included vitamins C and E, and minerals including magnesium and zinc. Even though a large study is not on record, couples who are trying to conceive might want to take a multivitamin and mineral formulation rich in antioxidants. It’s an expensive and low-risk option that could speed the conception process.

A related story in the news last month caught my attention, and this one concerned women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal disorder that affects 5- to 10 percent of reproductive aged women. Women with PCOS have irregular cycles and problems ovulating. Since the 1990’s scientists have been studying how insulin resistance impacts PCOS. Being overweight and sedentary aggravates insulin resistance which worsens PCOS, so losing weight and getting (and staying) active are keys for women with this condition. In addition, omega-3 fatty acids are recommended for their anti-inflammatory benefits.

With omega-3’s and multivitamins so affordable, it makes sense for both men and women interested in conception to add these supplements to their daily routines.

For more information about Cooper Complete Nutritional Supplements, click here.

By Jill Turner, Vice President of Operations for Cooper Complete®

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