As many as one in every eight couples have fertility problems. Photo: Colourbox
A Danish researcher may be on the verge of proving that the cause of men’s fertility problems is a lot simpler than believed.
Martin Blomberg Jensen, a doctor and reproduction researcher at the University of Copenhagen, has concluded in his doctoral thesis that vitamin D has a significant effect on fertility.
Although there have been several studies pointing toward vitamin D’s positive effect on sperm, Jensen may be able to definitively prove it once and for all.
Beginning in the winter, he will carry out a clinical trial on 330 infertile men over the course of five months. Half of the men will be given high doses of vitamin D while the other half will be given a placebo. If those given the vitamin D are able to get their partners pregnant, it could provide the final step in proving Jensen’s theory correct.
“Today there is no known treatment for male infertility as there hasn’t been a drug found to have a proven effect,” Jensen told Politiken.
“The brilliant thing with vitamin D is that it is cheap, it isn’t harmful and in the correct dosages it doesn’t have side effects. It would be fantastic if taking an extra vitamin D pill made a difference because it wouldn’t just help us Danes, but a whole lot of people,” he added.
According to international studies, one in eight couples have difficulty getting pregnant and in at least one third of the cases, the problem is attributed to the male partner.
Jensen’s latest research also shows that vitamin D can be activated locally in the testicles, which could lead to advancements in artificial insemination by allowing doctors to apply vitamin D to sperm cells and see which ones respond. Those that do can then be selected for the artificial insemination.
Jensen hopes that his findings will eventually lead to a simple test for men who suspect they might have fertility issues.
“The clever thing is that it would be a test on whether you can have children – yes or no. But it is also a test that can help determine what sort of fertility treatment would be best,” he told Politiken.
Based on the strength of his discoveries, Jensen has recently been hired by Harvard University.