Selenium for Fertility and Reproductive Health

¬†Selenium ‚Äď A Powerful Micronutrient for Fertility

An essential nutrient, the mineral selenium is a trace element, meaning only small amounts are required to utilize its benefits. Selenium was first discovered in 1817 by Swedish chemist Jacob Berzelius while working in a chemical factory. He eventually named the substance ‚Äúselenium,‚ÄĚ from the Greek word ‚Äúselene,‚ÄĚ meaning ‚Äúmoon.‚ÄĚ Researchers later found that selenium played an important role in enzymatic processes, specifically the production of glutathione (GSH). Considered the ‚Äúmaster antioxidant,‚ÄĚ this amino acid chain, found in every cell, may support toxin removal, cellular energy production, and immunity.

Selenium Benefits for All

An essential mineral, selenium is part of a collection of proteins called selenoproteins, which play vital roles in multiple body processes. Among these are thyroid hormone metabolism, DNA synthesis, reproduction, and protection from oxidative stress. While usually stored in skeletal muscle, due to its role in thyroid health and function, the thyroid gland has the highest concentration of selenium.  

Please note: Selenium supplements may not be appropriate for every person or situation. It’s important to discuss any supplementation with your doctor before starting a new regimen.

Selenium for Female Fertility

Selenium is a powerful antioxidant, both on its own and as a result of its part in GSH activity. This may explain its potentially beneficial properties for female fertility, including fertilization and pregnancy. Selenium may support ovulation and improve egg health, promoting the development of ovarian follicles. It may also support sexual hormone production, ensuring the necessary development of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone.

Selenium and the various selenoproteins promote thyroid gland function, essential to women’s health, especially during pregnancy. Left untreated, thyroid disease has been associated with higher risks of miscarriage, placental abruption, hypertensive disorders, and growth restriction. Thyroid disorders can also contribute to fertility problems, making it difficult to conceive.

Selenium’s antioxidant status may also provide additional pregnancy benefits, including protecting the placenta from oxidative stress and lowering the risk of pregnancy complications like preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. Additionally, selenium has been found to be necessary for lactation.

Selenium for Male Fertility

Selenium is considered an essential micronutrient for normal testicular development. It also displays impressive properties for sperm health and quality, especially when combined with other antioxidant supplements, like vitamin E and zinc. This likely stems from its ability to reduce oxidative stress and the accompanying inflammation, improving sperm damage. 

Selenium may also boost testosterone levels. Its benefits for the thyroid gland also support men’s reproductive health, as poor thyroid function is linked with male infertility. Research suggests that higher selenium supplement levels may support male fertility, such as increased libido and semen quality. 

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Your Questions, Answered:‚Ä® Selenium Fertility FAQ

  • Yes, selenium supplementation has been found to impart valuable properties for egg health. Specifically, this nutrient may promote the development of ovarian follicles, which are the small fluid sacs that hold eggs. Selenium also supports the process in which eggs become dominant and achieve ovulation. Among these benefits is protection for the dominant follicle and the developing embryo.

  • Yes, selenium may be especially important for the production of female sex hormones, including estrogen and progesterone, both crucial for female fertility. Estrogen is responsible for the development of secondary sex characteristics, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. During menstruation, progesterone enables the endometrium to shed. its levels increase during conception to support the pregnancy, where it helps to prepare the endometrium for a fertilized egg. Selenium is also necessary for thyroid gland function, which is essential for hormone regulation, fertility, and pregnancy.

  • Yes, and this is likely due to the mineral‚Äôs antioxidant role. Specifically, selenium defends the placenta from oxidative stress, shown to contribute to harmful conditions, such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. Selenium deficiencies may be associated with such pregnancy complications as miscarriages and fetal nervous system damage. In addition, selenium has been shown to be an important nutrient for breastfeeding and lactation.

  • Yes, selenium, especially when taken with other antioxidants, like vitamin E and zinc, may impart benefits for sperm function. Sperm damage may improve as oxidative stress and related inflammation are reduced. Taking selenium may improve such sperm parameters as motility, morphology, and spermatogenesis.

  • Yes, research has shown that taking selenium supplements, especially when combined with other antioxidants, may raise testosterone levels. A combination of the minerals selenium, magnesium, and zinc was found to increase men‚Äôs anabolic hormone levels, such as that for testosterone and muscle strength, more so than when taken individually. This is important, as testosterone levels typically decrease after age 30, potentially contributing to impaired sexual function.

  • Yes, selenium‚Äôs impact on thyroid gland health and function may contribute to a host of benefits for male infertility. This gland is the body‚Äôs main storage area for selenium, and poor thyroid function has been linked with infertility. While additional research is needed, among these proposed benefits are improved libido and semen quality, including both count and motility.¬†