Subscribe to the BioNews newsletter for free

Login
Advanced Search

Search for
BioNews

Like the Progress Educational Trust on Facebook



 

Antioxidants 'do not improve women's fertility'

12 August 2013

By Emma Stoye

Appeared in BioNews 717

There is no evidence to suggest taking antioxidant supplements will help infertile women become pregnant, according a review of fertility clinic trials published in The Cochrane Library.

The review looked at 'subfertile' women, defined as those that have been trying to conceive for over a year with no success. Around a quarter of couples experience trouble conceiving, and although the exact causes in each case are often poorly understood, female disorders such as poor egg quality, fallopian tube damage and endometriosis are thought to be responsible in 40 to 50 percent of couples.

Antioxidants are substances that mop up free radicals in the body, and they are thought to reduce oxidative stress associated with some of these conditions. Many infertile women turn to over-the-counter antioxidant supplements such as vitamin C and vitamin A to try and increase their chances of conceiving.

But a meta-analysis of 28 trials, involving a total of 3,548 women, concluded that women taking either individual or combinations of antioxidant pills were no more likely to conceive than those fed placebos or other dietary supplements such as folic acid.

'There is no evidence in this review that suggests taking an antioxidant is beneficial for women who are trying to conceive', said lead researcher Marian Showell from the University of Auckland.

She added that the general quality of trial evidence the review had looked at was poor, and that it was difficult to draw comparisons between different antioxidants, as lots of different substances had been included. The review also looked for evidence of adverse effects of antioxidants, such as ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage, but found no evidence to cause concern.

'I don't think the results were surprising in the sense that there are no national organisations or guidelines that recommend routine use of antioxidant supplements for fertility', Dr Wendy Vitek, a fertility researcher at the University of Rochester who was not involved in the review, told The Huffington Post. She added, however, that the findings are disappointing: 'It would make everyone's lives easier if we could say, "here, take this supplement"'.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
The Independent | 05 August 2013
 
Huffington Post | 04 August 2013
 
The Cochrane Library | 05 August 2013
 
University of Auckland (press release) | 05 August 2013
 

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

14 November 2016 - by Lone Hørlyck 
A compound found in liquorice can have adverse effects on follicle growth and sex hormone production in mouse ovaries...
22 June 2015 - by Ayala Ochert 
The rate of ectopic pregnancies in the UK following assisted reproduction has almost halved in the past 12 years, according to a new analysis...
28 April 2014 - by Professor Tom Fleming 
Increasing evidence, mainly from animal studies, suggests that eggs and very early embryos in the first few days after conception can be particularly sensitive to their environment with lifetime consequences including risk of diseases into adulthood...
21 October 2013 - by Dr Katie Howe 
Regularly eating processed meats such as bacon may have a detrimental effect on sperm quality, a small US study suggests...
07 October 2013 - by Dr Lucy Spain 
Eating a hearty breakfast can improve fertility in women with a common menstrual disorder, a small study suggests...

05 December 2011 - by Dr Caroline Hirst 
Women receiving fertility treatment are more likely to become pregnant if they take multivitamin supplements, reports a UK pilot study...
24 January 2011 - by Dr Marianne Kennedy 
Couples struggling to conceive may be more likely to have a child if the man takes certain vitamins or other antioxidants, according to scientists....
16 February 2009 - by Misty Hatfield and Dr John MacMillan 
Dian Shepperson Mills' 'Commentary' in BioNews 493 (2/2/2009) 'Why fertility patients should consider what they eat before resorting to more invasive treatment' directs us to observational studies on the links between diet and (in)fertility as well as pregnancy outcomes. Since the original observations were made in the...
30 October 2006 - by Dr Laura Bell 
A Harvard Medical school study involving 18,000 women has shown that taking multivitamins, particularly folic acid, can improve chances of pregnancy in couples having difficulty conceiving. Around 150,000 couples in the UK suffer from infertility problems due to the woman's inability to ovulate, which is about 1...

HAVE YOUR SAY
Be the first to have your say.

You need to or  to add comments.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


- click here to enquire about using this story.

Published by the Progress Educational Trust

CROSSING FRONTIERS

Public Conference
London
8 December 2017

Speakers include

Professor Azim Surani

Professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz

Professor Robin Lovell-Badge

Sally Cheshire

Professor Guido Pennings

Katherine Littler

Professor Allan Pacey

Dr Sue Avery

Professor Richard Anderson

Dr Elizabeth Garner

Dr Andy Greenfield

Dr Anna Smajdor

Dr Henry Malter

Vivienne Parry

Dr Helen O'Neill

Dr César Palacios-González

Philippa Taylor

Fiona Fox

Sarah Norcross

Sandy Starr


BOOK HERE

Good Fundraising Code

Become a Friend of PET HERE and give the Progress Educational Trust a regular donation