Selenium-vitamin E supplementation in infertile men: effects on semen parameters and pregnancy rate

Int J Gen Med. 2011 Jan 23;4:99-104. doi: 10.2147/IJGM.S16275.


Objectives: Infertility is an important medical and social problem that has an impact on well-being. A significant development in the last 10 years in the study of human infertility has been the discovery that oxidative sperm DNA damage has a critical role in the etiology of poor semen quality and male infertility. Selenium (Se) is an essential element for normal testicular development, spermatogenesis, and spermatozoa motility and function. The predominant biochemical action of Se in both humans and animals is to serve as an antioxidant via the Se-dependent enzyme glutathione peroxidase and thus protect cellular membranes and organelles from peroxidative damage. We explored the efficacy of Se in combination with vitamin E for improving semen parameters and pregnancy rates in infertile men.

Materials and methods: The study included 690 infertile men with idiopathic asthenoteratospermia who received supplemental daily Se (200 μg) in combination with vitamin E (400 units) for at least 100 days. The mean age of cases was 28.5 years (range 20-45), and the median age was 30 years. These cases had presented with male factor infertility (primary or secondary) for at least 1 year. The longest and shortest duration of infertility was 10 years and 1 year, respectively. The median time of diagnosis of infertility was 1 year with a mean of 2.5 years.

Results: We observed 52.6% (362 cases) total improvement in sperm motility, morphology, or both, and 10.8% (75 cases) spontaneous pregnancy in comparison with no treatment (95% confidence interval: 3.08 to 5.52). No response to treatment occurred in 253 cases (36.6%) after 14 weeks of combination therapy. Mean difference between semen analyses of cases before and after treatment was 4.3% with a standard deviation of 4.29. On the basis of paired t-test results, combination therapy with oral Se and vitamin E was effective for treatment of asthenospermia or asthenoteratospermia or induction of spontaneous pregnancy (P ≤ 0.001).

Conclusions: Supplemental Se and vitamin E may improve semen quality and have beneficial and protective effects, especially on sperm motility. We advocate their use for the treatment of idiopathic male infertility diagnosed with asthenoteratospermia or asthenospermia in semen analysis.

Keywords: asthenospermia; infertility; male; selenium; semen; sperm; teratospermia; vitamin E.