Can certain supplements improve your fertility? In this article, we’ll review a nutrient called coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), how it functions in the body, and potential benefits of CoQ10 for fertility.
What is CoQ10?
CoQ10 is a vitamin-like compound that is critical for energy production inside the mitochondria of your cells. Mitochondria are the “power plants” of your cells that transform fat, protein, and carbohydrates into energy that your body can use. The egg cells in your ovaries have more mitochondria than any other cell in the body (1
). If your egg can produce optimal energy, there is a greater chance for it to mature, fertilize, and successfully grow into a developing embryo.
Your body makes CoQ10 in every cell. However, certain factors, like aging, taking cholesterol-lowering drugs, and oxidative stress, may lower your body’s ability to make enough CoQ10 to keep up with the demand.
Benefits of CoQ10 for Fertility
CoQ10 is a well-known supplement in the fertility industry due to its possible benefits for mitochondria function, egg quality, and inflammation. Let’s discuss a few of these benefits in more detail.
Can Lower Inflammation
CoQ10 is an antioxidant that can protect your cells from damage. Oxidative stress is a condition that occurs when there are too many oxidants (molecules that damage cells) compared to antioxidants (molecules that protect cells). Higher levels of oxidative stress may lead to inflammation, poor egg quality, and fertility problems.
Fortunately, CoQ10 supplements have shown to reduce oxidative stress in the body and significantly lower markers of inflammation, like C-reactive protein (CRP) (2
). This is especially beneficial for women with polycystic ovary syndrome
(PCOS) who often have higher levels of oxidative stress and inflammation than women without PCOS.
CoQ10 May Improve Egg Quality
Egg quality is crucial for healthy ovulation, implantation, and embryo development. Poor egg quality may contribute to early pregnancy loss and/or infertility. Your egg cells have over 100,000 mitochondria; however, as you age, the mitochondria become damaged and less efficient at producing energy. This mitochondrial dysfunction results in lower quality eggs and likely explains why age can negatively affect egg quality and overall fertility. However, egg quality may also play a role in other fertility concerns, like premature ovarian failure.
CoQ10 improves mitochondria function and helps your eggs produce more energy. This may translate to improved egg quality and fertility. For example, one study found a higher level of CoQ10 inside developing eggs was associated with higher-quality eggs and higher pregnancy rates (4
). Likewise, a separate and larger review study found an increase in pregnancy rates when women undergoing fertility treatments took CoQ10 supplements (5
Lowers Blood Sugar and Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance occurs when your cells do not properly respond to insulin, leading to higher blood sugar levels. Insulin resistance
worsens inflammation and causes the ovaries to produce more androgens (i.e. testosterone). Excess androgens may prevent ovulation, cause longer cycles, and lead to difficulty conceiving.
In order to reduce androgens and promote ovulation, you must focus on balancing blood sugar and reducing insulin resistance, if present. Fortunately, CoQ10 can help. A review study evaluating the use of CoQ10 for women with PCOS found that taking CoQ10 significantly reduced fasting blood sugar and markers of insulin resistance (6
CoQ10 May Improve Sperm Quality
Male infertility accounts for nearly 50 percent of all cases in which a couple has difficulty conceiving. Oxidative stress is the biggest factor impacting sperm quality. However, men with subfertility who take an antioxidant supplement may have a significantly higher chance of their partner conceiving and a higher chance of a live birth (7
As we mentioned earlier, CoQ10 is an antioxidant that can lower oxidative stress. A large review study evaluated the effect of CoQ10 supplements in male infertility and found that CoQ10 did not significantly increase pregnancy rates but did increase sperm count and sperm mobility (8
While specific dosing of CoQ10 is often personalized based on your clinical history and fertility treatment plan, starting with 100 – 200 mg of CoQ10 per day is a great place to start. For best results, take CoQ10 with a meal to enhance absorption.
CoQ10 and Fertility: Key Takeaways
Taking CoQ10 is an inexpensive, promising, and safe therapy that may improve fertility outcomes by reducing oxidative stress, improving egg and sperm quality, and reducing insulin resistance in women with PCOS. Some studies have found higher pregnancy rates in women taking CoQ10 supplements compared to women who do not take this supplement.