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This Supplement May Help You Get Pregnant

Updated: Jun 21, 2022


Couple with fertility issues awaiting pregnancy results

Have you and your partner been struggling to get pregnant? If so, you are not alone. Infertility, which is defined as failure to conceive after one year of unprotected sex, occurs in about 1 in 5 women aged 15 to 49 years with no prior births [1].


Even if you don’t meet the exact criteria for infertility, you may have still spent several frustrating months without achieving a successful pregnancy, and you might be wondering if there is anything you can do to improve your chances of conceiving.


Fortunately, some recent research indicates that a fairly common, inexpensive, and safe supplement may be helpful for improving both male and female fertility.


CoQ10 and Fertility


Coenzyme Q10, commonly known as CoQ10, is a vitamin-like substance that is made by the human body and obtained from the diet [2]. CoQ10 is vitally important for energy production in cells, and it is also a potent antioxidant [2]. This antioxidant capacity makes CoQ10 a particularly interesting option for improving fertility because oxidative stress likely contributes to both female and male infertility [3, 4, 5].


Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body [6]. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that are capable of damaging cellular components, and antioxidants can help protect cells by neutralizing free radicals. Several factors can increase oxidative stress levels in the body including poor diet, mental stress, inflammation, aging, exposure to environmental pollutants, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption [6].


CoQ10 has been shown to significantly reduce markers of oxidative stress and increase antioxidant enzyme levels in humans [7]. While these effects certainly sound encouraging, it is important to verify that they translate to actual improvements in human fertility.


CoQ10 supplement

Indeed, two high-quality systematic reviews found that CoQ10 may be helpful for improving fertility.

A note about research quality:

  • The quality of research studies can vary based on the type of study.

  • Systematic reviews are considered to be high quality studies. They take the results of multiple studies and summarize them to paint an accurate picture of what the research shows. Think of it like the way Google or Yelp takes many reviews about a business and combines them together to come up with an overall rating for that business.

The first systematic review, which looked at male fertility, summarized the results of 12 different studies and found that CoQ10 supplementation improved semen quality [8]. In particular, sperm movement (referred to as sperm motility) was improved in 11 out of 12 studies, and sperm concentration was improved in several of the studies as well.


The second systematic review looked at 5 different studies that involved females with infertility and found that CoQ10 increased the rate of clinical pregnancy in women who underwent assisted reproductive techniques [9]. Clinical pregnancy simply means pregnancy that is confirmed by ultrasound and by elevated levels of the pregnancy hormone hCG [10].


There are some important things to note about this second study. First, even though CoQ10 improved clinical pregnancy rates, it did not improve actual live birth rates compared to placebo. Second, this study only included women who underwent assisted reproduction, so it isn’t clear whether CoQ10 would help improve natural conception based on this study.


Nevertheless, both of these studies provide a clear signal that CoQ10 can have beneficial effects for improving different markers of fertility in both men and women.

Key Takeaways

  • High quality research shows that CoQ10 improves sperm health in men and clinical pregnancy rate in women.

  • CoQ10 did not improve the rate of actual live births in women undergoing assisted reproduction.

How Much and What Form of CoQ10 to Take


Most of the studies testing the effect of CoQ10 on fertility have used 200 mg/day for 3-12 months for men [8], and 600-1,200 mg/day for 2-3 months for women [9]. Additionally, there is strong evidence that doses up to 1,200 mg/day are safe, and no negative effects were reported when this dose was administered for up to 16 months [2]. No matter which dose you take, it is best to do so in a divided manner since the intestine can only absorb so much CoQ10 at a time. Taking 100-200 mg at a time with a fat-containing meal is the best way to maximize absorption [2, 11].


In regards to the best type of CoQ10 to take, the research is very inconsistent. CoQ10 exists in two forms; ubiquinol and ubiquinone. Some studies suggest that CoQ10 in the form of ubiquinol is better absorbed in the intestines than the ubiquinone form, but this can vary a great deal from person to person, so it might not make much of a difference which form of CoQ10 is used [11].


Is CoQ10 by Itself Enough?


If you are looking to improve your reproductive health, a more comprehensive or holistic approach is likely to be more effective than simply taking CoQ10 by itself. Based on the above research, CoQ10 can absolutely be a safe and effective part of a natural regimen to improve fertility, but as mentioned previously, several diet and lifestyle factors are associated with reduced fertility. Addressing each of these factors and mitigating oxidative stress is a sensible and safe option.


So what else can you do along with supplementing CoQ10?


Implementing a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet is a terrific option. Typical Western diets are high in refined grains, sugar, fat, and processed meats [12]. This type of dietary pattern promotes inflammation, oxidative stress, and chronic disease, and may also be related to reduced fertility [12]. In contrast, a Mediterranean diet high in vegetables, fruit, fish, poultry, low-fat dairy, and olive oil has been associated with improved fertility [13].


Other options such as supplementing with vitamin B12, folic acid, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, along with being physically active and reducing stress may all be helpful natural alternatives for improving fertility and reproductive health [13, 14, 15].


As always, talk with your doctor if you are struggling to get pregnant, but consider that addressing your diet and lifestyle can have a powerful impact on improving your reproductive health.


 

If you are interested in trying a natural approach to improve your reproductive health but would like some help, consider checking out my clinic. I work closely with patients via telehealth to determine which factors could be promoting their chronic health issues, and I come up with detailed, personalized plans to help improve their health based on their individual needs.






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