Aims: Male infertility has been associated with imbalance in the polyunsaturated fatty acids arachidonic acid/docosahexaenoic acid (AA/DHA) ratio. This study aimed to assess whether use of the potent antioxidant, lycopene, would affect this imbalance in seminal plasma and to test whether modulation of the AA/DHA ratio correlates with male fertility.
Methods: The study included 44 males from infertile couples who were treated with lycopene for three months before scheduled IVF treatment. The control group was 13 fertile males who were also treated with lycopene for three months. AA and DHA levels were measured in seminal plasma before and after treatment. The outcome of IVF treatment after lycopene use in of males from infertile couples was recorded.
Results: The subjects were subdivided into 21 normozoospermic males from couples with idiopathic infertility and 23 males with semen abnormalities. Prior to the treatment with lycopene, the AA/DHA ratios in both subgroups of patients were significantly higher than in fertile controls and improved following treatment with lycopene. Improvement was more marked in the normospermic males. Seven spontaneous pregnancies (16%) occurred before the scheduled IVF treatment and 15 couples (42%) achieved pregnancy after IVF.
Conclusions: Three months of treatment with lycopene led to a significant improvement in the AA/DHA ratio in seminal plasma of males from infertile couples and facilitated the spontaneous as well as IVF conception.