The role of selenium in human conception and pregnancy

J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2015 Jan;29:31-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jtemb.2014.07.003. Epub 2014 Jul 19.


Selenium (Se) is a trace element essential for the appropriate course of vital processes in the human body. It is also a constituent of the active center of glutathione peroxidase that protects cellular membranes against the adverse effects of H2O2 lipid peroxides. Epidemiological surveys have demonstrated that selenium deficiency in the body may contribute to an increased risk for certain neoplasmic diseases (including colonic carcinoma, gastric carcinoma, pulmonary carcinoma and prostate carcinoma), as well as diseases of the cardiovascular, osseous and nervous systems. Apart from its cancer prevention and antioxidative activities, selenium protects the body against detrimental effects of heavy metals and determines the proper functioning of the immunological system. Furthermore, selenium plays a significant role in the undisturbed functioning of the reproductive system. Many studies have addressed correlations between its intake and fertility as well as disorders of procreation processes. Selenium deficiencies may lead to gestational complications, miscarriages and the damaging of the nervous and immune systems of the fetus. A low concentration of selenium in blood serum in the early stage of pregnancy has been proved to be a predictor of low birth weight of a newborn. A deficiency of this element may also cause infertility in men by causing a deterioration in the quality of semen and in sperm motility. For this reason, supplementation in the case of selenium deficiencies in the procreation period of both women and men is of utmost significance.

Keywords: Antioxidative activity; Pregnancy; Reproduction; Selenium.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female / metabolism
  • Ovulation
  • Pregnancy
  • Reproduction*
  • Selenium / metabolism*
  • Selenoprotein P / metabolism
  • Spermatogenesis


  • Selenoprotein P
  • Selenium