Excessive generation of reactive oxygen species(ROS) containing free oxygen radicals has beenidentified as one of the causes of maleinfertility. Lycopene is a component of humanredox defence mechanism against free radicals.It is found in high concentrations in thetestes and seminal plasma and decreased levelshave been demonstrated in men suffering frominfertility. We evaluated the effect of orallycopene therapy in men with idiopathicinfertility. Beginning March 2000, thirty menwith idiopathic non-obstructiveoligo/astheno/teratozoospermia were enrolledfor the trial. All patients were administered2000 mcg of Lycopene, twice a day for threemonths. Semen analysis was performed at threemonths and sperm concentration, motility andmorphology were evaluated. All patientscompleted the trial without any complications.Twenty patients (66%) showed an improvement insperm concentration, sixteen (53%) hadimproved motility and fourteen (46%) showedimprovement in sperm morphology. In casesshowing an improvement, the median change inconcentration was 22 million/ml, motility 25%and morphology 10%. The improvement inconcentration and motility were statisticallysignificant. Baseline sperm concentration lessthan 5 million/ml was associated with nosignificant improvement. Higher baselineconcentrations were associated with significantimprovement and resulted in six pregnancies in26 patients (23%). Oral Lycopene therapy seemsto have a role in the management of idiopathicmale infertility. Maximum improvement seems tooccur in the sperm concentration (66% cases).Patients without severe oligospermia (spermdensity >5 million/ml) may be given a trialof therapy with lycopene. However, largerrandomised controlled trials are essentialbefore definitive therapeutic guidelines can bemade.
Andrology Antioxidants Carotenoids Oxidative stress Reactive oxygen species (ROS)