In a nutshell
This trial looked at whether alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) can improve varicocele repair outcomes. It found that this antioxidant may lead to more improvement in sperm quality.
Semen quality is an important part of male fertility. Sperm development requires a cooler environment. The scrotum provides the correct temperature away from the body’s core. However, some men have abnormally enlarged veins of the scrotum. These are called varicoceles (VC). The VC heat the scrotum, which can reduce fertility. For men with infertility, surgical repair can improve sperm quality.
VC may also slow waste removal from the blood. Studies have found that antioxidants can reduce sperm damage from these metabolic wastes. It is not clear whether ALA supplements can improve sperm quality following VC repair.
Methods & findings
This study included 41 men with VC and infertility. All of the participants underwent VC repair surgery. Afterward, half of men were randomly assigned to receive ALA supplements. The other men received a placebo. Semen samples were taken prior to surgery, and after 80 days of supplement or placebo.
Initially, the two groups had similar sperm quality. Sperm concentration significantly improved for both groups following surgery. Additionally, there was a trend toward more sperm moving normally for men taking ALA (35.75% vs. 26.76%).
DNA fragmentation indicates how many sperm have damaged genetic material. DNA fragmentation significantly improved for both groups following surgery.
The bottom line
This study found that ALA supplements following VC repair led to improved sperm movement. It also found that VC repair significantly improved sperm concentration and DNA quality.
The fine print
This was a small study. Also, many of the initial patients did not return for the second semen sample (19 out of 60).
Talk to your doctor about whether antioxidants can improve your fertility.
Published By :
Reproductive BioMedicine Online
Dec 01, 2020