It’s estimated that around one out of every six couples are likely to experience some kind of infertility while trying to conceive. Often these problems are related to male infertility and sperm health. However, now there might be a new and easy way to boost overall semen quality for men struggling with reproductive health. Some recent studies have claimed that lycopene, an antioxidant compound present in tomatoes, could potentially increase a man’s sperm count by almost 70 percent! The buzz around tomatoes started after the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio published a report about lycopene’s significant effects on sperm health.
What is lycopene?
Lycopene is a red pigment and antioxidant present in a number of fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, watermelon, papaya, and apricots. Since the human body can’t synthesize lycopene naturally, it needs to be supplemented by consuming the vegetables and fruits that contain it.
Lycopene is believed to be highly concentrated in the male testes. Thus, some clinical trials attempted to examine whether lycopene can improve male infertility by enhancing the sperm’s antioxidant capacity. Tomato juice is one of the richest sources of the antioxidant lycopene. The study conducted by the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Reproductive Medicineattempted to analyze the effects of taking tomato juice daily on lycopene levels in the participants’ seminal plasma. The study also examined the way in which regular consumption of tomato juice might affect sperm parameters in the infertile men.
What does the study show?
Forty-four men who had been medically diagnosed with poor sperm motility (<50%) and/or poor sperm concentration (<20×10 6/mL) participated in the study. They were asked to either drink one can of tomato juice containing 30 mg of lycopene daily or to consume an antioxidant supplement comprising of 600 mg vitamin C, 200 mg vitamin E, and 300 mg glutathione daily over a twelve-week duration. Another control group of men had to take a placebo. At the end of this period, lycopene levels in plasma were found to have significantly increased in the tomato juice-consuming participants. Sperm motility and swimming speed of sperm improved noticeably along with a decrease in the number of abnormal sperm. No particular benefits were observed in the group that consumed the antioxidant supplement. This is the very first study to find favourable results from the consumption of some commercially available food like tomato juice in male infertility.
As the study’s lead author said, there is obviously a need for more expansive trials and research to further investigate the effects of lycopene on sperm quality and potency as well as find which groups of patients get the most benefits from this treatment and how. The great news is that the University of Sheffield is already preparing to initiate a 12-week trial to try and determine if lycopene can truly improve sperm quality on a significant scale while increasing the sperm quantity as proven. Scientists wish to expand this area of research to see how lycopene influences men with low sperm counts in comparison to men with normal sperm counts. This would help them to understand which set of patients would be most suitable for lycopene supplementation and gain most from it. So don’t shy away from reaching out for tomato juice and boost your lycopene levels to improve your sperm health.