Vitamin C improves sperm quality, but not quantity, when given at low doses after variocele surgery, according to a recent double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial.
Male factors are predicted to be the cause of 50% of infertility cases. Variocele, or varicose veins of the testicles, is one of the most common causes. Surgery to correct this condition will increase spermatogenesis in 70% of patients but this benefit does not translate to higher pregnancy rates, with a low 30% of spontaneous pregnancy rates documented post- surgery. Therefore, adjuvant therapies are required.
Many studies have reviewed the use of vitamin C to increase various parameters of sperm health, but its use remains controversial. Therefore, the aim of this research was find evidence of the clinical use of vitamin C as a supplement post surgery and its effect on sperm quality and quantity.
In this study 155 Iranian men, who had recent surgery for variocele, were chosen to receive two daily doses of 250mg of vitamin C every day or a placebo of starch capsules for three months after their procedure. The control group contained 46 men, compared with the placebo group of 69 men; the mean age of both cohorts was 27.6 ± 5.3 years.
The results showed that the control group had significantly improved post-operative sperm motility and normal morphology, even after adjustments for age, however, the sperm count was not affected. The researchers stated that ‘ascorbic acid could positively affect qualitative and not quantitative characteristics of sperm analysis.’
The authors concluded that previous studies on the use of vitamin C on spermatogenesis suggest a positive effect, with this study showing an adjuvant role for vitamin C in improving sperm quality. They state that, ‘Since vitamin C is a safe and cheap supplement with possible therapeutic effects in some cases of male infertility, further studies are necessary.’
- Cyrus A, Kabir A, Goodarzi D, et al. The effect of adjuvant vitamin C after varicocele surgery on sperm quality and quantity in infertile men: a double blind placebo controlled clinical trial. Int Braz J Urol 2015;41(2):230-238. [Full Text]