Infertility and low testosterone respond to astaxanthin
One out of ten Americans of reproductive age is affected by infertility, the inability to achieve pregnancy after at least one year of unprotected intercourse. Sperm can be exposed to and damaged by reactive-oxygen species. In fact, an increased generation of these free radicals is seen in many subfertile men. Sperm themselves do not have any free-radical defense system and, due to the fatty acids in the sperm membrane, are very susceptible to free-radical attack.
Astaxanthin to the rescue
This is where astaxanthin comes in. Human research documents that sperm quality and function improves when astaxanthin is taken as a supplement.1 While that is good news, what matters even more to couples is achieving a pregnancy. This study reports the good news that astaxanthin supplements increased both spontaneous pregnancies as well as those after intrauterine insemination.
When a group of 30 infertile men were undergoing infertility treatment with their partners (generally intrauterine insemination), researchers provided the men with either a placebo or a daily supplement of 16 mg. of astaxanthin for three months.2 Reactive-oxygen species decreased significantly and sperm velocity increased in the astaxanthin group. About 10 percent of the placebo group’s partners became pregnant during this study, while 55 percent of the astaxanthin group’s partners became pregnant.
Astaxanthin and testosterone maintenance
Hormone changes are a natural part of aging for men, but unlike female menopause (which occurs over a relatively short period of time), male menopause – or andropause – is a longer, slower event in which testosterone levels decrease steadily each decade after about the age of 40.
Less testosterone takes a toll on muscle mass, libido and energy, while upping the risk of depression. Astaxanthin may help maintain natural testosterone levels in aging men. A group of 42 healthy men took one of two doses of a combination of astaxanthin and the herb saw palmetto daily for two weeks.3 Both the high-dose and low-dose groups experienced an increase in their testosterone levels after just three days of starting treatment, indicating that even the lower dosage is effective.
Comhaire FH, et al. The role of food supplements in the treatment of the infertile man. Reprod Biomed Online 2003;7(4):385-91.
Comhaire FH, et al. Combined conventional/antioxidant “Astaxanthin” treatment for male infertility: a double blind, randomized trial. Asian J Androl 2005;7(3):257-62.
Angwafor F, et al. An open label, dose response study to determine the effect of a dietary supplement on dihydrotestosterone, testosterone and estradiol levels in healthy males. J Int Soc Spt Nutr 2008;5:12-8.