Selenium Supplementation and Male Infertility

Clinical studies show that daily supplementation with selenium can improve male fertility [Moslemi et al.; Safarinejad & Safarinejad; Scott et al.].

Stork bringing baby
Sperm motility is a parameter of sperm analysis used to evaluate the ability of sperm to move in a forward direction. Poor sperm motility is associated with diminished male fertility. Adequate serum selenium status (> 90-100 mcg/L) is associated with improved sperm quality and improved sperm motility.
Selenium Supplementation of Men in Iran in 2009

 In a 2009 study lasting 26 weeks, researchers in Teheran randomly assigned infertile men, average age 31 years, range 25-48 years, to the following groups [Safarinejad & Safarinejad]:

  1. selenium supplementation group (n=116; dosage = 200 mcg/day)
  2. N-acetyl-cysteine group (n=118; dosage = 600 mg/day)
  3. selenium supplementation group (n=116; dosage = 200 mcg/day) plus N-acetyl-cysteine (dosage = 600 mg/day)
  4. placebo group (n=118)
Outcomes of the 2009 Iranian selenium study:
  •  All semen parameters significantly improved with the selenium treatment and with the N-acetyl-cysteine treatment.
  • Administering selenium plus N-acetyl-cysteine resulted in additive beneficial effects.
  • There was a significant positive correlation between the seminal plasma concentrations of selenium and N-acetyl-cysteine and the semen parameters.
  • There was a strong correlation between the sum of the selenium and N-acetyl-cysteine concentrations and the mean sperm concentration, sperm motility, and percentage of normal morphology sperm.
Selenium Supplementation of Men in Iran 2011

In an open-label study of 690 infertile men, average age 28.5 years, range 20-45 years, who received a daily selenium supplement (200 mcg) together with a daily synthetic vitamin E (400 units, α-tocopherol) for at least 100 days, the researchers concluded that supplemental selenium and vitamin E improve semen quality and have beneficial effects on sperm motility [Moslemi et al.].

Outcomes of the 2011 Iranian selenium study
  •  The combination of selenium and vitamin E was associated with a significant increase in mean sperm motility from baseline.
  • The combination of selenium and vitamin E was associated with a slight but statistically significant increase in the normal morphological sperm ratio from baseline.
Pregnant couple
Difficulty achieving pregnancy affects an estimated 48 million couples world-wide, approximately 15% of all couples. Male partners are solely responsible in 20-30% of infertility cases, and male fertility problems contribute to 50% of problems overall (Agarwal et al.)
Selenium Supplementation of Men in Scotland in 1998

In a study conducted in the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, 64 men, average age 33 years, were randomly assigned to one of three test groups [Scott et al.]:

  1. Daily supplementation with 100 micrograms of selenium
  2. Daily supplementation with 100 micrograms of selenium plus 1 milligram Vitamin A, 10 milligrams Vitamin C, and 15 milligrams Vitamin E
  3. Daily supplementation with a placebo
Outcomes of the 1998 Scotland selenium study:
U-Shaped Curve Relating Selenium Status to Health Benefits

Professor Margaret P. Rayman, University of Surrey, has suggested in a 2012 seminal article published in The Lancet that selenium status in the range roughly from 100 – 170 mcg/L is most likely to confer health benefits [Rayman, 2012, Figure 3, page 4].

Best form of Selenium supplement

A 2014 comparative study has shown that an organic high-selenium yeast formulation gives significant protection against oxidative stress damage while an exclusively selenomethionine formulation does not. The selenium-enriched yeast product contains selenium species beyond just selenomethionine and these other selenium species seem to have the beneficial effect [Richie et al.].


Agarwal A, Mulgund A, Hamada A, Chyatte MR. A unique view on male infertility around the globe. Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2015;13:37.

Mintziori G, Mousiolis A, Duntas LH, Goulis DG. Evidence for a manifold role of selenium in infertility. Hormones (Athens). 2020 Mar;19(1):55-59.

Moslemi MK, Tavanbakhsh S. Selenium-vitamin E supplementation in infertile men: effects on semen parameters and pregnancy rate. Int J Gen Med. 2011;4:99-104.

Rayman MP. Selenium and human health. Lancet. 2012 Mar 31;379(9822):1256-68.

Richie JP Jr, Das A, Calcagnotto AM, Sinha R, Neidig W, Liao J, Lengerich EJ, Berg A, Hartman TJ, Ciccarella A, Baker A, Kaag MG, Goodin S, DiPaola RS, El-Bayoumy K. Comparative effects of two different forms of selenium on oxidative stress biomarkers in healthy men: a randomized clinical trial. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2014 Aug;7(8):796-804.

Safarinejad MR, Safarinejad S. Efficacy of selenium and/or N-acetyl-cysteine for improving semen parameters in infertile men: a double-blind, placebo controlled, randomized study. J Urol. 2009;81(2):741-51.

Scott R, MacPherson A, Yates RW, Hussain B, Dixon J. The effect of oral selenium supplementation on human sperm motility. Br J Urol. 1998 Jul;82(1):76-80.

The information presented in this review article is not intended as medical advice and should not be used as such.

30 May 2021

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