CoQ10 for Fertility - Coenzyme Q10 for Pregnancy
Coenzyme Q10, also known as CoQ10, is an antioxidant that is naturally found in the body. It can also be taken as a dietary supplement, and it has been recommended for some time as a supplement for men with low sperm count, low motility and other sperm-related problems. Today, there are preliminary studies suggesting that the association between coenzyme Q10 and fertility could be important for female infertility as well. This is an area that is actively being researched, with a specific focus on CoQ10 and egg quality. At CHR, we have been using this antioxidant for women with egg quality issues for some time now, based on the results of preliminary human studies as well as studies using animal models.
What does CoQ10 do?
Coenzyme Q10 is produced and used in all cells in the human body. All cells require energy to function properly, and this energy is produced by mitochondria, tiny structures inside of cells with their own DNA that is separate from the DNA in the cell nucleus. CoQ10 plays an essential role in helping the mitochondria produce energy used by the cells. Specifically, it is part of the electron transport chain in mitochondrial cell membranes. It is also an antioxidant, and as such, it protects eggs’ DNA from oxidative damage, which tends to accumulate as we age. In research studies, egg quality appears to be improved by CoQ10’s action in egg cells during IVF.
Fertility, Egg Quality, & CoQ10
There are two main theories about coenzyme Q10 fertility effects, both of which relate to the molecule’s potential role in egg quality. The important thing to note here, first, is that the amount of CoQ10 that the body produces declines with age. So, as a woman gets older, all her cells, including her egg cells, have less energy available.
How might coenzyme Q10 improve egg quality? One theory is that because egg cells are so large, and because so much energy is required for egg maturation, fertilization and embryonic cell division, inefficient energy production results in lower egg quality and embryo quality. Less energy in the critical embryonic stage can cause mistakes in cell division, which can lead to failed IVF cycles or miscarriages. When CoQ10 is supplemented, eggs have a better chance of getting sufficient energy from their mitochondria to propel healthy growth.
Another theory relates to coenzyme Q10’s role as an antioxidant. Antioxidants protect cells’ DNA from damage from oxidative stress. When there is less antioxidant activity, free radicals can cause damage to the egg cell’s DNA, which can also lead to egg quality problems. CoQ10 supplementation for IVF can protect those eggs from oxidative damage.
In both of these scenarios, low levels of CoQ10 can lead to problems in fertilization or to an embryo with genetic mutations that interfere with its viability. Consequently, female fertility declines. Therefore, used within well-designed protocols for IVF, CoQ10 has the potential to improve pregnancy chances, especially in older women.
CoQ10 Egg Quality Research
Published research studies on CoQ10 fertility in women and the use of coenzyme Q10 for egg quality are still somewhat limited. Most research is focusing on pairing supplementation with IVF or IUI treatment for women with infertility, rather than using CoQ10 for pregnancy attempts naturally. The use of the supplement for IVF is similar to how the supplement DHEA is used in concert with IVF, a method that was first established here at CHR in 2005. The important part is to start supplementation early, at least 6-8 weeks before the planned IVF start, so that the eggs going through the multiple-months-long maturation process will have the fertility benefits of CoQ10. While published data is limited, CHR physicians have been able to improve pregnancy chances in women with diminished ovarian reserve (whether due to attempting pregnancy after age 40 or due to premature ovarian aging) with supplementation with coenzyme Q10 before and during IVF.
Read more about Egg Quality
CHR is working toward developing a standard to measure egg quality...
Norbert Gleicher, MD, leads CHR’s clinical and research efforts as Medical Director and Chief Scientist. A world-renowned specialist in reproductive endocrinology, Dr. Gleicher has published hundreds of peer-reviewed papers and lectured globally while keeping an active clinical career focused on ovarian aging, immunological issues and other difficult cases of infertility.
Last Updated: May 01, 2020