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Struggling to get pregnant can feel frustrating, emotionally draining, and isolating. And more individuals than you may realize face difficulties conceiving.
One dietary supplement that shows promise in supporting male and female fertility is called CoQ10. Here’s what you need to know about CoQ10 for fertility and whether it can help your chances of a future pregnancy.
Why is CoQ10 and why is it important for health?
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10 for short) is a compound the body produces naturally. It can also be obtained through foods like meat, dairy, and eggs and dietary supplements (Sood, 2022).
CoQ10 is an antioxidant that plays a role in metabolism and energy production. Antioxidants protect cells from oxidative stress caused by free radicals, which are unstable molecules that damage cells and are linked to some diseases.
Free radicals are a result of normal body metabolic processes plus external exposures like ultraviolet light, cigarette smoke, and pollutants. Antioxidants like CoQ10 fight off free radicals to keep balance in the body and prevent oxidative stress (Sharifi-Rad, 2020).
Reproductive cells like sperm and eggs are particularly susceptible to damage from oxidative stress. Compared to other cells, they also have limited antioxidant capacity and DNA repair mechanisms, making them more vulnerable to oxidative stress (Lafuente, 2013).
CoQ10 for male fertility and sperm health
It’s believed that oxidative stress plays a significant role in male infertility, though studies looking at the effects of CoQ10 supplements in men with infertility problems yielded mixed results (Lafuente, 2013).
A recent analysis found that CoQ10 supplementation was associated with significant improvement in sperm motility for men with fertility issues. A sperm’s ability to move through the female reproductive tract to fertilize an egg is a very important factor for male fertility (Vishvkarma, 2020).
While there are no high-quality studies comparing CoQ10 to other antioxidants, a recent analysis suggests CoQ10 supplementation may be particularly effective for sperm motility and concentration (Li, 2022).
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Most importantly, while there have been positive effects on semen parameters like sperm motility, concentration, and morphology (sperm shape), no studies show a significant impact on pregnancy rates. This means that even though certain aspects of sperm health might improve with CoQ10 supplements, the actual rate of getting pregnant may not change (Lafuente, 2013).
CoQ10 for female fertility and egg quality
For women, two important contributors to infertility are aging and what’s called diminished ovarian reserve. This term refers to poor quality or quantity of eggs. Both aging and diminished reserve are related to oxidative stress (Florou, 2020).
One study found women preparing for in vitro fertilization (IVF) who supplemented with CoQ10 had more eggs retrieved during treatment. They also saw higher fertilization rates, more quality embryos, and experienced fewer unsuccessful embryo transfers than the placebo group (Xu, 2018).
Another small study suggested that CoQ10 supplements may improve an egg’s ability to withstand damage from oxidative stress, plus its overall quality—especially for women older than 35 (Giannubilo, 2018).
CoQ10’s role in pregnancy
What function (if any) CoQ10 plays in pregnancy is still emerging. Most research so far has looked at outcomes related to sperm or egg health rather than if these supplements actually increase the chances of conceiving.
That said, a recent review reported that women undergoing fertility treatments who supplemented with CoQ10 had higher pregnancy rates than those only receiving traditional fertility support. While pregnancy rates were higher, there was no significant difference in the number of live births (Florou, 2020).
How to take CoQ10 supplements
Dietary CoQ10 supplements (also labeled ubiquinone) are widely available, primarily as capsules. They are fat-soluble compounds, meaning they’re best absorbed in the presence of fat and should be taken with food (Sood, 2022).
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CoQ10 supplementation has been studied in doses ranging from 60–600 mg per day. There’s currently no consensus on the best dose of CoQ10 for fertility (Lafuente, 2013; Sood, 2022).
Talk with a healthcare provider before incorporating CoQ10 into your daily routine and for recommendations on what dose to start on.
Side effects and risks
CoQ10 supplements are generally safe and well-tolerated with minor side effects. These include possible stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. There have also been reports of insomnia in people taking 100 mg or more daily (Sood, 2022).
Should you take CoQ10 for fertility?
Many people are seeking out ways to be proactive about their reproductive health. That includes considering whether to take dietary supplements like CoQ10.
While there are no studies showing that supplementation with CoQ10 increases pregnancy rates in couples with infertility issues, there are small studies showing it improves things like sperm motility and concentration.
Emerging evidence indicates that CoQ10 may also support female reproductive health and egg quality. CoQ10 supplements are well-tolerated and safe for most. Added health benefits of CoQ10 beyond fertility include:
- Preventing heart failure and cardiovascular disease
- Lowering blood pressure levels
- Boosting physical performance and endurance
- Reducing the frequency of migraines
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If you’re having difficulty getting pregnant, reach out to a healthcare provider or fertility specialist for support and treatment options.
- Ahmadi, S., Bashiri, R., Ghadiri-Anari, A., & Nadjarzadeh, A. (2016). Antioxidant supplements and semen parameters: An evidence-based review. International Journal of Reproductive Biomedicine, 14(12), 729–736. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5203687/
- Florou, P., Anagnostis, P., Theocharis, P., et al. (2020). Does coenzyme Q10 supplementation improve fertility outcomes in women undergoing assisted reproductive technology procedures? A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized-controlled trials. Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics, 37(10), 2377–2387. doi:10.1007/s10815-020-01906-3. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32767206/
- Giannubilo, S. R., Orlando, P., Silvestri, S., et al. (2018). CoQ10 Supplementation in Patients Undergoing IVF-ET: The Relationship with Follicular Fluid Content and Oocyte Maturity. Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland), 7(10), 141. doi:10.3390/antiox7100141. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6210096/
- Hernández-Camacho, J. D., Bernier, M., López-Lluch, G., & Navas, P. (2018). Coenzyme Q10Supplementation in Aging and Disease. Frontiers in Physiology, 9, 44. doi:10.3389/fphys.2018.00044. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5807419/
- Lafuente, R., González-Comadrán, M., Solà, I., et al. (2013). Coenzyme Q10 and male infertility: a meta-analysis. Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics, 30(9), 1147–1156. doi:10.1007/s10815-013-0047-5. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23912751/
- Li, K. P., Yang, X. S., & Wu, T. (2022). The effect of antioxidants on sperm quality parameters and pregnancy rates for idiopathic male infertility: A network meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Frontiers in Endocrinology, 13. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35265037/
- Sharifi-Rad, M., Anil Kumar, N. V., Zucca, P., et al. (2020). Lifestyle, oxidative stress, and antioxidants: Back and forth in the pathophysiology of chronic diseases. Frontiers in Physiology, 11. doi:10.3389/fphys.2020.00694. Retrieved from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2020.00694/full
- Sood, B. & Keenaghan, M. (2022). Coenzyme Q10. StatPearls. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK531491/
- Vishvkarma, R., Alahmar, A. T., Gupta, G., & Rajender, S. (2020). Coenzyme Q10 effect on semen parameters: Profound or meagre? Andrologia, 52(6), e13570. doi:10.1111/and.13570. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32271472/
- Xu, Y., Nisenblat, V., Lu, C., et al. (2018). Pretreatment with coenzyme Q10 improves ovarian response and embryo quality in low-prognosis young women with decreased ovarian reserve: a randomized controlled trial. Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, 16(1), 29. doi:10.1186/s12958-018-0343-0. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5870379/