Female Fertility Not Affected By Antioxidants
August 7, 2013

Women Receive No Fertility Boost From Antioxidants, Research Claims

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Taking antioxidants appears to have no effect on the odds that a woman will become pregnant, researchers from the University of Auckland in New Zealand claim in a new study.

Lead investigator Marian Showell of the university's department of obstetrics and gynecology and colleagues reviewed data from 28 studies involving a total of 3,548 female patients treated at fertility clinics.

According to UPI reports, Showell's team discovered that women taking oral antioxidants were no more likely to conceive, and that there was limited information about potential harm caused by taking the supplements.

In research published in The Cochrane Library, the authors analyzed research in which the participants were given a variety of antioxidants. Among those elements were melatonin, L-arginine, vitamin C, vitamin E and multiple micronutrients, FoxNews.com reported.

"There is no evidence in this review that suggests taking an antioxidant is beneficial for women who are trying to conceive," Showell said in a statement. In addition, on the whole they discovered that those taking antioxidants experienced no more adverse effects than those who underwent standard treatments or took placebos.

The authors also reported that adverse effects, including miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy, were only recorded in just 14 of the trials. Overall, they considered the quality of the trials to be low or very low, and said that the number of different antioxidants used in the various studies made it difficult to draw quality-related comparisons.

Antioxidants, which can be taken in pill form and is also found in many different fruits and vegetables, can help reduce oxidative stress and has also reportedly shown promise in boosting male fertility, said Catherine Pearson of the Huffington Post.

However, the new study shows that it will likely be of little help to the approximately 12 percent of women of childbearing age that are currently experiencing infertility in the US, she added.

"I don't think the results were surprising in the sense that there are no national organizations or guidelines that recommend routine use of antioxidant supplements for fertility," said Dr. Wendy Vitek, who heads up the University of Rochester's Strong Fertility Center's fertility preservation program and did not work with Showell on the study.

"But I definitely have women ask me about supplements," she added. "I think there are a lot of feelings of self-blame with infertility, and women are looking to gain some sense of being proactive and of potentially controlling a very uncontrollable situation."