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It has been shown that low levels of CoQ10 can contribute to problems with fertilization and genetic mutations which can decrease the viability of an embryo. CoQ10 is a potent antioxidant that is naturally made in the cells of the body. Fertility treatments and CoQ10 supplementation has been investigated since CoQ10 helps increase cellular energy production. Recent studies support the potential to help with fertility.

A study in the Journal of Fertility and Sterility found that the health of an older woman’s eggs was improved by CoQ10 supplements of 600 mg per day and fertilization rates were increased as well.

What Makes CoQ10 So Valuable?

A possible role for CoQ10 in fertility makes sense for a number of reasons, as CoQ10 is a component of our cells’ energy production process in mitochondria. The higher the energy needs of a cell, the higher the content of CoQ10. This means cells/organs with high-energy requirements have more mitochondria and higher CoQ10 levels.

The main function of the mitochondrion (a membrane-bound organelle found inside the cells) is to produce energy for cellular activity. Eggs have more mitochondria than other cells in the body. They need many mitochondria, in part, to produce the energy required for cell division during early embryo development. The majority of these mitochondria are organized into each of the new cells made during cell division in early embryonic development.

Aging affects both fertility and mitochondria. As women age, pregnancy rates decrease and chromosomal errors in their embryos increase. Chromosome number errors lead to miscarriage and live-born genetic conditions like Down syndrome. Mitochondrial DNA mutations also increase with age, possibly due to differences in mitochondrial DNA repair mechanisms. These concordant differences associated with increasing age encouraged research into the role of CoQ10, as a mitochondrial supplement and possible fertility support.

Studies show the effect of CoQ10 in Fertility Treatments

In studies conducted at the Samuel Lunenfeld Institute of Research, summarized in Fertility and Sterility, Robert F. Casper and colleagues found that CoQ10 supplementation improves mitochondrial energy production and affects egg and embryo development in mice.

Casper’s group compared young mice, old mice, and old mice taking CoQ10. The results? Old mice taking CoQ10 showed outcomes more similar to the young mice group – with higher egg counts, more eggs ovulated after ovarian stimulation, embryos with less chromosomal misalignment, and larger litter sizes. {Fertil Steril 2013; 99:18-22}

Disrupting CoQ10 production in these mice appears to disrupt mitochondrial function, increase chromosomal errors and lead to premature ovarian insufficiency. Replacing CoQ10 appears to restore ovarian function to these CoQ10 deficient mice.

Research is still ongoing

Studies conducted in humans are small and need further development. For example, a small randomized controlled trial published on the Clinical Medical Insights: Reproductive Health journal looked at the use of either a 600 mg CoQ10 supplement or a placebo for two months before IVF. While early results were interesting with a higher percentage of embryos with normal chromosome number in the CoQ10 group, the study was too small (only 24 women completed the study) to show a statistically significant difference.

CoQ10 has also been shown to enhance male fertility, according to another study published in the Journal of Andrology. The research found that supplementation with 200-300 mg of CoQ10 each day significantly increased sperm motility as well as sperm count and the overall health of sperm.

It’s important to note that antioxidants in general—and CoQ10 in particular—have shown benefit in improving semen analysis parameters, including:

  • Semen count
  • Motility
  • Morphology

In a study published in The Journal of Urology, researchers found that “significant improvement in sperm density and motility was evident with coenzyme Q10 therapy.”

Showing Promise for Fertility Treatment

CoQ10 is showing promise as a supplement that improves fertility outcomes.

Information from the National Center for Biotechnology Information indicates that pretreatment with CoQ10 increases ovarian response to stimulation and improves oocyte and embryo quality in young low prognosis patients with diminished ovarian reserve. There is also a possible beneficial effect on clinical pregnancy and live birth rates.

While the current evidence is largely from mice-based studies, CoQ10 has some early support in humans.  Since it is a potent antioxidant with no evidence of harm, we recommend that you consider adding CoQ10 to your current supplementation when trying to conceive.

Sources: Bentov and Caspar 2013 : The Aging Oocyte – Can Mitochondrial Function Be Improved?