N-acetyl Cysteine Boosts Male Fertility
N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is a supplement that increases your body’s production of glutathione. It is the building block for glutathione production. Glutathione is a potent antioxidant and your body’s most powerful detoxifier. Research shows NAC helps to improve male fertility by boosting sperm health.
A recent study showed that daily supplementation with n-acetyl-cysteine for 3 months in men with abnormal sperm significantly improved sperm quality and reduced signs of oxidative stress. Oxidative stress harms sperm in a way that compromises fertility.
The study was published in the journal Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology. Fifty men between the ages of 25 and 40 years were chosen. All of the men had asthenoteratozoospermia, which means the motility and morphology of the sperm are both abnormal. All of the men in the study had never had children and their female partners did not have any medical conditions that impair fertility.
Men with specific conditions that impair fertility were excluded from this study. Those conditions included the following: hormonal abnormalities, Klinefelter’s syndrome, sperm antibodies, abnormal liver function, alcohol consumption, varicocele, cryptorchidism, leukospermia, anatomical disorders, cancer, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption or a fever within 90 days of the sperm test.
The men in the study took 600mg of NAC each day for 3 months and had their before and after semen analysis compared.
Significant benefits were seen in all seminal parameters tested: sperm concentration, total motility and progressive motility, with a marked reduction in abnormal morphology.
There were also big reductions in the percentages of DNA fragmentation (breakages in DNA that can cause infertility or birth defects). Interestingly, all hormonal levels except prolactin changed, and the men experienced an increase in testosterone.
Infertility is certainly on the rise, and increasingly due to male factors. Sperm cells are exquisitely sensitive to the effects of environmental chemicals and dietary toxins. Sperm take between 74 and 78 days to form and men are continually producing new sperm. In fact a young and healthy man produces more than four million sperm per hour in each testicle. Because sperm cells are growing and dividing so rapidly, they are very sensitive to harm caused by toxins.
Environmental chemicals are definitely a problem and it is wise to limit your exposure to them as much as possible. However, nutrient deficiencies are a big issue as well. Sperm cells need particular nutrients in order to develop and function correctly. Selenium is particularly important.
Selenium protects the DNA inside cells from damage; therefore it protects the DNA inside sperm from fragmentation. Research has shown that selenium improves the health of Leydig cells inside testes, which are the cells that manufacture testosterone. This has the beneficial effect of improving sperm quality. Selenium also helps to reduce the risk of miscarriage. An optimal level of selenium supplementation is 200 micrograms per day.
For more information about overcoming male or female infertility, see our book: Infertility: The Hidden Causes.