Low vitamin D levels in male partners of couples undergoing fertility treatment affect the pregnancy success rate, according to a new study.
Previous studies have highlighted the association of vitamin D deficiency and reproductive disorders and infertility in women. Although vitamin D also plays a role in male reproductive physiology, the link between vitamin D status and male fertility is not completely clear. A recent pilot study has investigated the link between vitamin D status in males and pregnancy success rates in couples undergoing fertility treatment.
The study enrolled about one hundred couples attending a fertility center in Italy. The couples had been attempting pregnancy for at least a year and the age of male partners ranged from 30 to 36 years. The women had similar levels of reproductive hormones and body mass index (BMI) and had an infertility period between 12 to 36 months. The men had comparable sperm counts and motility based on semen analysis. The female partners with low serum vitamin D (less than 30 ng/ml) were given supplements to maintain normal vitamin D levels throughout the course of the study and the couples were divided into two groups based on the vitamin D status of the male partners. All female partners underwent three cycles of hormonal treatment to stimulate ovulation and monitored to determine the optimal time for conception.
The study found that the pregnancy and delivery rates were significantly higher in couples with male partners having normal serum vitamin D levels compared to the group in which the males had low vitamin D. The number of miscarriages was higher in couples with vitamin D-deficient male partners.
This study showed a link between vitamin D deficiency in males and decreased pregnancy rates among infertile couples and a study involving a larger number of participants, providing better insight into the impact of vitamin D deficiency on male fertility. Vitamin D supplementation in male partners could be a strategy to improve pregnancy success rates in couples.
Tartagni M, Matteo M, Baldini D, Tartagni MV, Alrasheed H, De Salvia MA, Loverro G, Montagnani M. Males with low serum levels of vitamin D have lower pregnancy rates when ovulation induction and timed intercourse are used as a treatment for infertile couples: results from a pilot study. Reprod Biol Endocrinol. Published online 21 November 2015. DOI: 10.1186/s12958-015-0126-9
Written by Ana Victoria Pilar, PhD