CoQ10 is fast emerging as a choice of supplement for doctors to treat a number of health problems. It has been found to be effective in congestive heart failure, angina, high blood pressure, migraine, cataracts and type 2 diabetes. In fact, when it comes to heart health, CoQ10 truly shines.
Coq10 is also often recommended to people on statins, as these cholesterol-lowering drugs deplete the body of this important antioxidant – leading to all kinds of side effects such as muscle soreness, muscle fatigue and memory problems.
Emerging research is now unfolding and revealing its benefits in both male and female infertility. So, how does CoQ10 fit in this scenario? Infertility, at least in parts, has roots in oxidation and abnormal mitochondrial functions. Anything that improves these parameters would help people struggling with infertility, the reason why CoQ10 appears to be especially helpful here.
For example, CoQ10 deficiency has been implicated in reduced sperm and egg health, parameters that are absolutely central to a healthy pregnancy. Research also shows that CoQ10 may boost fertility in men, in older women (who naturally have low chances of getting pregnant) and in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition that negatively affects the chances of pregnancy.
Can CoQ10 boost your chances of conception? Let’s find out.
Link between CoQ10 and infertility
A healthy, successful pregnancy depends on many factors:
- Health of eggs and sperm
- Successful fertilization
- Implantation of embryo into the uterus
- Embryo development
Eggs need to mature. Sperm needs to swim and meet the released egg for fertilization and form an embryo. And development of embryo depends on numerous cell divisions and many other critical events. All these processes require a lot of energy. That’s why both the sperm and eggs need to be healthy and endowed with healthy mitochondria (site where energy is generated) to be able to undergo these processes with success.
To understand the role of CoQ10 in these events, let’s begin with how CoQ10 works in the body.
CoQ10 is required to produce energy: Mitochondria are little energy generating units present in almost all living cells. You can call them cellular batteries that power up cells with all the energy they need to function. This energy is created through an elaborate set of bio-chemical reactions that takes place in the mitochondria. Out of many nutrients that mitochondria need to make these reactions possible, CoQ10 plays a unique role. Without enough CoQ10, mitochondria are not able to furnish sufficient energy for the cells to divide, grow and repair. CoQ10 deficiency can lead to reduced energy status in the cells, a consequence that can be linked to many health complaints including infertility.
CoQ10 is required to neutralize free radicals: Oxidative stress, caused by free radicals, is yet another piece in the infertility puzzle. It can damage cells in sperms, in developing follicles and in embryo. In fact, problems that are very closely related to infertility – such as endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), irregular periods, repeated miscarriage, egg health, sperm health and sperm motility – all have their roots in oxidative stress. And CoQ10, as an antioxidant, mops up free radicals.
CoQ10 levels drop as we age. You make less CoQ10 as you grow old and also when you take statins to lower your cholesterol levels. Lack of CoQ10 adversely affects the process of fertilization and embryo development, leading to miscarriage and even birth defects. Replenishing your coenzyme Q10 levels can reverse some of these issues associated with infertility.
Benefits of CoQ10 in Female Infertility
In women, fertility declines with age. Most women over 35 years of age find it difficult to get pregnant, both naturally and with assistance. A woman produces a reducing number of healthy eggs as she grows older.
The quality of an egg can mean many things. But mostly it refers to whether an egg has the normal number of chromosomes. A missing or extra chromosome can result in babies born with Turner syndrome or Down’s syndrome. According to the National Down Syndrome Society, the risk of kids born with Down syndrome increases with the age of the mother. The quality of an egg also determines whether an egg has the potential to mature and divide properly.
Reduced energy production in an egg’s mitochondria and increased oxidative stress are inevitable in old age and these two factors play a big hand in reduced quality of eggs in older women.
The egg is the largest cell in the human body and you won’t really be surprised to know that human egg contains the maximum number of mitochondria, possibly 10-100 times more mitochondria than other cells with high energy requirements such as muscle cells and nerve cells. The mitochondria provide all the energy requirements of a developing egg. It is a prefect juncture to remember how CoQ10 plays a very crucial role in producing energy in the mitochondria.
Now, as you age, you don’t make enough CoQ10, which means your mitochondria get less and less resourceful in making the energy in the cells, and in this context in the cells of eggs and the embryo. Failing mitochondrial performance also leads to increased oxidative stress. And all this could spell disaster for your reproductive health, leading to:
- Poor quality of eggs that won’t fertilize
- Impaired implantation and impaired development of the embryo
- Increased rate of chromosomal abnormalities (in the offspring of older women).
In a nutshell, CoQ10 levels decrease with age. This leads to mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress, two leading causes of reduced infertility in women.
Taking CoQ10 supplements can reverse the age-related decline in egg quality and improve pregnancy outcomes. This 2017 study found that high levels of CoQ10 in follicular fluid is associated with higher pregnancy rates in assisted reproductive techniques. 
Another study found that a combination of CoQ10 and clomiphene citrate improves ovulation and pregnancy rates in patients with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) who are resistant to clomiphene citrate. PCOS is a common hormonal disorder affecting women of reproductive age.
Several factors such as obesity, insulin resistance, oxidative stress and resulting inflammation and also mitochondrial abnormalities, to name a few, can cause PCOS. While clomiphene citrate is often used to help with ovulation in PCOS women, about 1/4th of women with this condition fail to respond. Gonadotrophins are also used to induce ovulation in this population, but this is a complicated and expensive treatment. This is where CoQ10 helps. The study concluded that CoQ10 “is an effective and safe option and can be considered before gonadotrophin therapy or laparoscopic ovarian drilling.” 
Aging and oxidative damage also reduces ovarian reserve, the pool of eggs in the ovaries. Low ovarian reserve means the ovary can’t supply enough healthy eggs for fertilization. Obviously, this reduces the chances of a successful pregnancy. According to a 2016 study, CoQ10 supplementation may protect ovarian reserve against oxidative damage. 
Benefits of CoQ10 in Male Infertility
Studies show that CoQ10 levels in seminal fluid (fluid that contains sperm) define the sperm health. On the other hand, CoQ10 deficiency and increased oxidative stress have been linked with a number of factors in sperm health that contribute to male infertility – such as low sperm count, poor abnormal form and structure and poor sperm motility (sperm motility is the ability of sperm to swim through the female reproductive tract). Low sperm motility and count are two of the most common causes of male infertility.
A very recent study showed that antioxidants generally have a favourable effect on male fertility.  And CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant for sure. So, while it increases the anti-oxidant power in sperm to fight the oxidative damage, it also improves mitochondrial health and cellular energy.
Emerging studies also support the use of CoQ10 supplements in male infertility. It has been found to improve the sperm count, sperm motility and sperm structure in men.  
You can also boost your fertility and up your chances of getting pregnant with lifestyle changes. Poor diet choices (such as alcohol, caffeine, sugar, processed food that have no real nutrition), smoking, stress, lack of sleep, sedentary lifestyle and environmental toxins all add up and increase the production of free radicals. This in turn increases the oxidative stress in your body, influencing factors that are related to fertility.
While there are number of other reasons that can affect your odds of getting pregnant, eliminating these factors is within your control. Adopt a healthy lifestyle, sleep well, get rid of negative thoughts and most important of all, increase your uptake of fresh fruits and vegetables that will give your body an added antioxidant support you need at this crucial time. Needless to say, good nutrition is extremely important to prepare your body to meet the rigorous demands of becoming pregnant. And don’t forget to ask your doctor if you can take a high quality CoQ10 supplements to better your chances. Good Luck!!
- Akarsu et al. The association between coenzyme Q10 concentrations in follicular fluid with embryo morphokinetics and pregnancy rate in assisted reproductive techniques. J Assist Reprod Genet. 2017
- A El Refaeey et al. Combined coenzyme Q10 and clomiphene citrate for ovulation induction in clomiphene-citrate-resistant polycystic ovary syndrome. Reproductive Biomedicine Online. 2014.
- Özcan et al. Can Coenzyme Q10 supplementation protect the ovarian reserve against oxidative damage? Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics. 2016
- Majzoub et al. Systemic review of antioxidant types and doses in male infertility: Benefits on semen parameters, advanced sperm function, assisted reproduction and live-birth rate. Arab Journal of Urology. 2018.
- Balercia G, Mancini A, Paggi F, Tiano L, Pontecorvi A, Boscaro M, Lenzi A, Littarru GP. Coenzyme Q10 and male infertility. Journal of Endocrinological Investigation. 2009
- Lafuente et al. Coenzyme Q10 and male infertility: a meta-analysis. Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics 2013