Selenium in reproductive health

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2012 Jan;206(1):21-30. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2011.07.034. Epub 2011 Jul 29.


Selenium is an essential trace element of importance to human biology and health. Increasing evidence suggests that this mineral plays an important role in normal growth and reproduction in animals and humans, and selenium supplementation is now recommended as part of public health policy in geographical areas with severe selenium deficiency in soil. This review addresses the biological functions of selenium followed by a detailed review of associations between selenium status and reproductive health. In many countries, selenium dietary intake falls below the recommended nutrient intakes and is inadequate to support maximal expression of the selenoenzymes. Numerous reports implicate selenium deficiency in several reproductive and obstetric complications including male and female infertility, miscarriage, preeclampsia, fetal growth restriction, preterm labor, gestational diabetes, and obstetric cholestasis. Currently, there is inadequate information from the available small intervention studies to inform public health strategies. Larger intervention trials are required to reinforce or refute a beneficial role of selenium supplementation in disorders of reproductive health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cholestasis / drug therapy
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Fertility / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female / drug therapy
  • Infertility, Male / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / etiology*
  • Pregnancy Complications / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Reproductive Health*
  • Selenium / adverse effects
  • Selenium / deficiency
  • Selenium / metabolism*
  • Selenoproteins / biosynthesis


  • Selenoproteins
  • Selenium