Sperm quality

Lycopene helps to shape sperms

In 2013, a Boston-based group of scientists working for the renowned Harvard University had confirmed the importance of a healthy, well-balanced diet for male fertility (Zareba et al, 2013). In a scientific study, the researchers compared the semen quality of 189 healthy, young male students to their nutrition.

Not surprisingly, the researchers found that antioxidants were altogether positive for sperm quality, thus substantiating the results of earlier studies (e.g. Mínguez-Alarcón et al, 2012).
More precisely the researchers were able to shown that, as far as sperm motility is concerned, carotenoids are vital.

Carotenoids are organic pigments with yellow to reddish colours. Mostly they are powerful antioxidants and have been discussed to have a protective role in many diseases such as cancer, arteriosclerosis, rheumatism, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and cataract. The best-known and most abundant carotenoid is β-carotene (e.g. from carrots).
For healthy sperm morphology, it was lycopene, which was most important. The more lycopene a man consumed, the better was the morphology, or shape, of his sperms. Lycopene is the carotenoid giving tomatoes their beautiful red colour.

In 2019, a high quality study has not only confirmed this data, but also shown that in addition to natural dietary uptake, targeted supplementation of lycopene can offer significant benefits for men who want to improve their semen quality.

The gold-standard study was led by two scientists from the university of Sheffield in the UK, namely Allan Pacey, professor of andrology and reproduction, and Dr Liz Williams, nutritionist. Together with their team, they looked at sperm quality in 60 healthy men over 12 weeks. The volunteers, all aged between 19 and 30, were randomly assigned to receive a lycopene supplement or a placebo.

“When we decoded the results, I nearly fell off my chair. The improvement in morphology – the size and shape of the sperm – was dramatic”, said Professor Pacey.

While the way of action is not clarified yet, one thing is totally clear: Whoever wants to bring in shape his sperms should obviously consume abundant lycopene!
And if you are sick of all the tomatoes, just grab a good micronutrient supplement (such as Fertilovit® Mplus or Fertilovit® MT with 4 mg lycopene/ day) to ensure your supply!

Mínguez-Alarcón L, Mendiola J, López-Espín JJ, Sarabia-Cos L, Vivero-Salmerón G, Vioque J, Navarrete-Muñoz EM, Torres-Cantero AM.
Dietary intake of antioxidant nutrients is associated with semen quality in young university students.
Hum Reprod. 2012 Sep;27(9):2807-14. doi: 10.1093/humrep/des247. Epub 2012 Jun 29.

Williams EA, Parker M, Robinson A, Pitt S, Pacey AA. A randomized placebo-controlled trial to investigate the effect of lactolycopene on semen quality in healthy males. Europ J Nutr 2019

Zareba P, Colaci DS, Afeiche M, Gaskins AJ, Jørgensen N, Mendiola J, Swan SH, Chavarro JE.
Semen quality in relation to antioxidant intake in a healthy male population.
Fertil Steril. 2013 Oct 1. pii: S0015-0282(13)02998-1. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2013.08.032. [Epub ahead of print]

About the author

Dr. rer. nat. Birgit Wogatzky

For many years now, biologist and nutritionist Dr Birgit Wogatzky, has been focusing on the special needs of fertility patients. For the readers of this blog, she sums up interesting novel information and developments from current research projects regarding lifestyle and nutrition of fertility patients.


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