Vitamin D in human reproduction: a narrative review

Int J Clin Pract. 2013 Mar;67(3):225-35. doi: 10.1111/ijcp.12031. Epub 2013 Jan 7.


Background: Special attention has been given to the effect of vitamin D supplementation on fertility outcomes in both sexes.

Aims: The purpose of this narrative review was to elucidate the role of vitamin D in male and female reproduction, providing current evidence from both animal and human studies.

Materials and methods: Using PubMed and Medline, we searched for publications during the last 30 years regarding the role of vitamin D in human reproduction.

Results: Accumulating evidence from animal and human studies suggests that vitamin D is involved in many functions of the reproductive system in both genders. In women, vitamin D status has been associated with in vitro fertilization (IVF) outcome, features of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis. Although several data converge towards a beneficial effect of vitamin D supplementation in metabolic disturbances in women with PCOS, a significant knowledge gap precludes the establishment of a clear cause-effect relationship. In men, vitamin D status has been associated with semen quality and sperm count, motility and morphology. There is evidence for a favourable effect of vitamin D supplementation on semen quality, testosterone concentrations and fertility outcomes.

Discussion: Studies with superior methodological characteristics are needed in order to establish a role for vitamin D on the treatment of female and male infertility.

Conclusions: Recent data on vitamin D provide new insights in the complex pathogenesis and treatment of infertility.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Endometriosis / etiology
  • Female
  • Fertility / physiology*
  • Fertilization in Vitro
  • Genitalia, Female / metabolism
  • Genitalia, Female / physiology*
  • Genitalia, Male / metabolism
  • Genitalia, Male / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female / etiology
  • Infertility, Male / etiology
  • Male
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / etiology
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / metabolism
  • Semen Analysis
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin D / physiology*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / complications


  • Receptors, Calcitriol
  • Vitamin D