Do Tomatoes Hold A Secret Ingredient Which Improves Sperm Quality?

Eloise Edington  |   14 Jun 2021

Today on Fertility Help Hub, we’ve teamed with FutureYou Cambridge, to discuss one particular aspect of male infertility and how one ingredient could hold the key to improving sperm quality. Read on to find out about sperm morphology improvement through clinical trials of this key ingredient, LactoLycopene, and its inclusion in some male fertility supplements. 

Words by FutureYou Cambridge

Is Infertility More Common in Males?

More often than not, the spotlight is shone most brightly on women when it comes to fertility problems. But did you know that male infertility issues are actually more common than female issues and, according to NICE, about 30% of infertility is caused by male factors.

This was the first properly designed and controlled study of the effect of LactoLycopene on semen quality, and it has spurred us to want to do more work with this molecule.

What Is Lycopene?

Lycopene is the substance that gives tomatoes their bright red colour and, whilst it can be found in other fruit and veg, the best dietary source of it is from cooked tomatoes. However, you would need to eat an awful lot of tomatoes to obtain a significant amount of lycopene. Consuming it in supplement form is an alternative way of getting optimal amounts of the nutrients you need, to where you need them in your body.

How Lycopene Can Improve Male Infertility

Research suggests that damage caused by excessive oxidative stress can affect sperm viability and motility, a known cause of male infertility issues. Lycopene is known as a powerful antioxidant. It is thought that this antioxidant effect is key in producing the improvements in sperm quality.

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Clinical Trials On LactoLycopene

In 2019, research was published on findings from the University of Sheffield, exploring the effects of LactoLycopene on sperm. LactoLycopene is a patented lycopene-form present in certain food supplements: lycopene is combined with whey protein in order to enhance its bioavailability (or its absorption). The results were nothing short of astounding.

A twelve-week trial was run involving 60 healthy male volunteers aged 19 to 30, led by Professor of Andrology Reproduction, Allan Pacey, and Dr Liz Williams, leading specialist in human nutrition at the University of Sheffield. Half of the participants took LactoLycopene supplements while the other half took placebos (dummy pills) every day for twelve weeks. Neither the researchers nor the volunteers knew who was receiving the LactoLycopene treatment and who was receiving the placebo. Sperm and blood samples were collected at the beginning and end of the trial.

LactoLycopene Improvement On Sperm Shape And Size

Professor Pacey said: “When we decoded the results, I nearly fell off my chair.

“We didn’t really expect that at the end of the study there would be any difference in the sperm from men who took the LactoLycopene versus those who took the placebo. “The improvement of sperm morphology – the size and shape of the sperm – was dramatic. We used a computer system to make these measurements, which takes a lot of the human error out of the results.

“This was the first properly designed and controlled study of the effect of LactoLycopene on semen quality, and it has spurred us to want to do more work with this molecule.”

Through this ground-breaking trial, the team discovered it is possible to increase the proportion of healthy shaped sperm (sperm morphology improvement) and boost ‘fast swimming’ sperm by about 40%. This research has had global coverage and certainly could give a lot of hope for those experiencing male infertility.

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What Happens Next?

“This was a small study and we do need to repeat the work in bigger trials, but the results are very encouraging,” said Dr. Williams.

“The next step is to repeat the exercise in men with fertility problems and see if LactoLycopene can increase sperm quality for those men and whether it helps couples conceive and avoid invasive fertility treatments.”

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Male Fertility Supplements Containing LactoLycopene

The LactoLycopene compound used for this particular trial is patented by FutureYou Cambridge and is available to buy in their supplement Fertility+. In this formulation LactoLycopene is combined with zinc, an essential mineral that contributes to normal fertility and reproduction and helps to maintain normal testosterone levels in the blood.

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