Lycopene therapy in idiopathic male infertility--a preliminary report

Int Urol Nephrol. 2002;34(3):369-72. doi: 10.1023/a:1024483520560.


Excessive generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) containing free oxygen radicals has been identified as one of the causes of male infertility. Lycopene is a component of human redox defence mechanism against free radicals. It is found in high concentrations in the testes and seminal plasma and decreased levels have been demonstrated in men suffering from infertility. We evaluated the effect of oral lycopene therapy in men with idiopathic infertility. Beginning March 2000, thirty men with idiopathic non-obstructive oligo/astheno/teratozoospermia were enrolled for the trial. All patients were administered 2000 mcg of Lycopene, twice a day for three months. Semen analysis was performed at three months and sperm concentration, motility and morphology were evaluated. All patients completed the trial without any complications. Twenty patients (66%) showed an improvement in sperm concentration, sixteen (53%) had improved motility and fourteen (46%) showed improvement in sperm morphology. In cases showing an improvement, the median change in concentration was 22 million/ml, motility 25% and morphology 10%. The improvement in concentration and motility were statistically significant. Baseline sperm concentration less than 5 million/ml was associated with no significant improvement. Higher baseline concentrations were associated with significant improvement and resulted in six pregnancies in 26 patients (23%). Oral Lycopene therapy seems to have a role in the management of idiopathic male infertility. Maximum improvement seems to occur in the sperm concentration (66% cases). Patients without severe oligospermia (sperm density > 5 million/ml) may be given a trial of therapy with lycopene. However, larger randomised controlled trials are essential before definitive therapeutic guidelines can be made.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Carotenoids / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Male / drug therapy*
  • Lycopene
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oligospermia / drug therapy
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / adverse effects
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Semen / chemistry
  • Sperm Motility / drug effects


  • Antioxidants
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Carotenoids
  • Lycopene