Failed Fertility Therapy

We all prefer good news over bad news, but if functional medicine hopes to remain true to science and reality, we have to acknowledge some failures.  At Sanctuary, some of our female patients not only want to overcome their chronic health issues but want to bear children.  In helping them, we look to detox, fighting inflammation, balancing hormones, and addressing deficiencies. As we do that. we must encourage health in their husbands or else our efforts may be less successful.  Many husbands end up with better health just because they begin eating healthy with their wife in our program.  This often works.

Beyond getting the hubbies to do their part in healthy conception, the possibility that the husband needs more than just a healthy diet arises. When the husband brings sperm testing which shows low numbers or decreased motility of sperm, more intentional work becomes necessary.  They may need detox themselves or lowering of inflammation.  A failure comes with the study at hand in which a list of antioxidants did not improve the sperm function of the test subjects.  Vitamins C, E and D, selenium, l-carnitine, zinc, folic acid and lycopene were administered in a placebo-controlled fashion for three to six months.

As a functional MD, I may encourage such antioxidants for other reasons, but I can’t advise them for fertility benefits from this study.  However, I do hope other researchers don’t give up on all of these for everyone.  There may be individuals with deficiencies in these nutrients that may still benefit from such replacement.  Others may find higher doses or other combinations that do help male fertility. Continuing to search for therapies that help our patients live healthier more abundant lives is what Sanctuary Functional Medicine strives towards.


Original Article:

Anne Z. Steiner, Karl R. Hansen, Kurt T. Barnhart, Marcelle I. Cedars, Richard S. Legro, Michael P. Diamond, Stephen A. Krawetz, Rebecca Usadi, Valerie L. Baker, R. Matthew Coward, Hao Huang, Robert Wild, Puneet Masson, James F. Smith, Nanette Santoro, Esther Eisenberg, Heping Zhang. The effect of antioxidants on male factor infertility: the Males, Antioxidants, and Infertility (MOXI) randomized clinical trial. Fertility and Sterility, 2020; DOI: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2019.11.008

Thanks to Science Daily:

NIH/Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. “Antioxidant supplements do not improve male fertility.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 February 2020. <>.

Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.

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