KEY POINTS

  • 1 in 8 American couples suffer infertility 
  • 1 in 3 cases suffer from male infertility including low sperm count or poor sperm quality
  • New research suggests that folic acid and zinc supplements are not effective in boosting male fertility
     

More than 48.5 million couples throughout the world suffer from male infertility. Zinc and folic acid supplements have been prescribed to improve sperm count in men. But, a new study has reported that these supplements are useless when it comes to boosting fertility among men.

Although zinc and folic acid are vital for sperm production, previous researches conducted to evaluate its effect on boosting sperm health has had conflicting results.

“There were a few small trials that showed a benefit, but we needed some definitive evidence that this would work,” NBC News quoted the study’s lead author Enrique Schisterman, a researcher at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, has made it evident that these supplements have no effect on improving male fertility.

The randomized clinical trial included 2,370 couples where the men used folic acid and zinc supplements. The research team led by Enrique F. Schisterman who sought to determine the effect of daily consumption of these supplements on semen quality and live birth found the results to be disappointing.

He opined that couples going through fertility treatments are very desperate to find something effective. And such supplements cost them about $60 a month compared with other expensive invasive medical treatments for infertility.

Instead of using over-the-counter (OTC) supplements of folic acid and zinc, the researchers used a combination of 5 mg of folic acid and 30 mg of zinc. This was to prevent potential side effects and also because the OTC supplements which aren’t strictly regulated might also contain other ingredients.

Half of the study participants were made to take one tablet daily for a period of six months and the other half were given dummy pills. They performed several semen tests during the course of the study.

After following up for more than 18 months, 820 babies were born, and the authors noted that the number of babies was the same in both groups. Also, they noted similar sperm quality among participants of both groups.

Not only did the supplement users experienced sperm DNA changes associated with infertility but they also suffered more digestive side effects.

about-3896753_1920 Zinc & folic acid supplements Photo: HeungSoon, Pixabay