Q10 is a natural antioxidant present in every cell of the human body.
The role of Q10 in fertility
What is coenzyme Q10 ? Can it help me get pregnant? We take a look at the research to help you understand its role in fertility, and give you some advice.
What is coenzyme Q10?
Coenzyme Q10 (Q10) has become increasingly popular in the infertility medical community. Q10, also known as ubiquinone, is a natural antioxidant found in every cell of the human body. It is a component used by our cells for the energy production process in the mitochondria. The main function of the mitochondria is to produce energy for cellular activity - the 'powerhouse of the cell' you may remember from your biology lessons. The higher a cell's energy requirements, the higher its Q10 content. This means that organs whose cells have high energy requirements have more mitochondria and, consequently, higher levels of Q10.
The oocyte (egg of the ovary) is the largest cell in multicellular organisms and there are more mitochondria per egg than in any other cellular organelle. As a result, ova need a lot of mitochondria to produce the energy needed for cell division during maturation of the egg, fertilisation and the development of an embryo.. After fertilization, the mitochondria of the sperm rapidly die off, so that the mitochondria of an embryo come entirely from the egg. Consequently, the quality of the mitochondria in an egg determines the quality of the embryo.
Why is Q10 important?
We know that with age, the quality and quantity of oocytes produced by the ovaries diminish (known as reduced ovarian reserve). Pregnancy rates fall and genetic abnormalities increase. Errors in the number of chromosomes lead to miscarriages and genetic diseases at birth, such as Down's syndrome. This phenomenon becomes more pronounced after the age of 35 for most women due to an increase in the number of chromosomal anomalies. These then lead to a higher rate of miscarriage and genetic anomalies in the foetus.
There are two predominant theories about the age-related decline in egg quality. The first is fairly straightforward: essentially, the better quality eggs are used in the younger reproductive years, leaving the poorer quality eggs for later. The second is that the ageing process itself can have a detrimental effect on the eggs that lie dormant in the ovary. One of the main ways in which this happens is through an increase in the number of mutations and deletions in mitochondrial DNA over time.
What does the research say about Q10?
Given these theories, infertility research has focused quite a bit on how to improve egg quality and increase the number of eggs. Since we know that Q10 is an integral part of the energy stored in all cells, it makes sense that supplementation could potentially help women with reduced ovarian reserve to improve mitochondrial activity and energy production in the ovaries.
As we know that Q10 is an integral part of the energy stored in all cells, it makes sense that supplementation could help women with reduced ovarian reserve to improve mitochondrial activity and energy production in the ovaries.
Much of the research in this area is still ongoing. Several studies have been carried out on both mice and women. Studies on mice have shown that older mice given Q10 had results more similar to those of younger mice - i.e. they had a higher number of eggs, more eggs were ovulated after ovarian stimulation and the embryos showed fewer chromosomal abnormalities.
A recent 2018 study found that pre-treating young women with low ovarian reserve with Q10 prior to an in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle improved ovarian response to stimulation.
These results are promising, and much more research is still being carried out to investigate this question.
Another benefit of Q10 for men is that it has been shown to improve semen analysis parameters, including sperm count, motility and morphology.
As we've explained, Q10 can improve the quality and fertility of eggs and improve sperm analysis parameters in men. It can therefore be beneficial for the fertility of both men and women. That's why we've added it to our +fertimen and +fertiwomen supplements..
Q10 and pregnancy
For most women, Q10 will have no additional benefit during pregnancy.
Although there is no risk in continuing Q10 supplementation during pregnancy, it is no longer necessary for most women. However, one study showed that taking 200 mg of Q10 from 20 weeks of pregnancy reduced the risk of pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy). If you are at risk of pre-eclampsia, please discuss taking Q10 and other ways of reducing your risk with your doctor. Otherwise, there is insufficient evidence to support the continuation of Q10 throughout pregnancy. As a result, it's best for most women to take it before pregnancy, then stop as soon as they discover they're pregnant. This is why our pregnancy food supplement, +mum does not contain it. If you are at risk of pre-eclampsia, talk to your doctor and he or she will decide whether Q10 supplementation is necessary.