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Antioxidant Therapy for the Enhancement of Male Reproductive Health: A Critical Review of the Literature

  • Kelton TremellenEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

Oxidative stress is a well-established cause of male infertility. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are present at higher concentrations in infertile men’s semen and have been conclusively shown to impair sperm function through oxidative damage to the sperm membrane and paternal DNA. It, therefore, would appear logical that amelioration of oxidative stress through the use of antioxidant therapy could improve infertile men’s sperm function, potentially leading to better reproductive performance. In this chapter, we critically analyse the published studies that have used in vivo antioxidant therapy to treat male infertility. Overall, there is reasonably good evidence that some antioxidant therapies can significantly reduce oxidative damage to sperm DNA and improve sperm membrane function (motility and sperm fertilization capacity). However, what is more contentious is whether these improvements in sperm quality actually translate into an increase in pregnancy rates or an improvement in pregnancy outcomes for infertile couples. While a few small studies have shown antioxidant therapy to assist both in vivo and in vitro conception, larger more definitive studies will be required before antioxidant therapy becomes established medical practice for infertile males.

Keywords

In vivo antioxidant therapy Male infertility Impaired sperm function Oxidative damage to sperm Reactive oxygen species Oxidative stress Antioxidant supplementation Antioxidant trials 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Pharmacy and Medical SciencesUniversity of South AustraliaDulwichAustralia

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