Principal Investigator: Matthew Peterson
Keywords: Fertility , reproductive medicine , pregnancy outcomes , folic acid and zinc supplementation trial , semen quality , infertility , secondary infertility , pcos , male fertility Department: Reproductive Endrocrinology
IRB Number: 00053611 Co Investigator: Douglas Carrell
Specialty: Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, Andrology, OB/Gyn, General
Sub Specialties:
Recruitment Status: Completed

Contact Information

Denise Lamb

Brief Summary

This is a multi-center, double-blinded, block randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial to assess the effects of folic acid and zinc dietary supplementation in males on semen quality and fertility rates among couples trying to conceive and seeking assisted reproduction.  

Primary Objective

The primary objective of the study is to assess the impact of folic acid and zinc dietary supplementation in males on semen quality and indirectly fertility outcomes (i.e., live birth rate) among couples attempting to conceive and seeking assisted reproduction.  A double-blind, placebo-controlled block randomized trial of folic acid and zinc dietary supplementation will be conducted. Following a screening/randomization visit, participants will return at 2, 4, and 6 months. The rate of adverse events will be noted throughout the double-blind trial.

Inclusion Criteria

Couples Inclusion Criteria:

  1. Heterosexual couples in a committed relationship with a female partner aged 18-45 years and male partner aged 18 years and older attempting to conceive and seeking assisted reproduction at participating fertility clinics.
  2. Couples actively trying to conceive.
  3. Couples who are planning OI, natural fertility optimization  methods, or IUI should be willing to be on the study dietary supplement for at least 3 weeks before starting the next assisted reproduction cycle.  Women with regular periods may initiate their fertility therapy at the start of the woman's menstrual cycle following randomization if randomization occurred within the first 10 days of the cycle, but must wait one menstrual cycle if the visit occurred after day 10 of the cycle.  For women with irregular periods or amenorrhea, the male must be on the study supplement for 3 weeks prior to initiation of any ovulation induction medication (e.g., clomid, letrozole, gonadotropins).  

Male Inclusion Criteria:

  1. Willing to provide semen samples according to the proposed schedule at baseline, 2, 4, and 6 months of follow-up.
  2. Able to complete regular study questionnaires and daily journals aimed at capturing ejaculation, sexual intercourse and lifestyle factors considered to affect male fecundity (e.g., cigarette smoking, fever, high temperature environment and other environmental exposures) and other data collection instruments (e.g., physical activity, food frequency questionnaire, stress).

Exclusion Criteria

Couples Exclusion Criteria:

  1. Female partner unwilling to participate (e.g., no abstraction of her assisted fertility treatment record or unwilling to complete baseline visit).
  2. Couples using donor, cryopreserved sperm, or sperm obtained via microsurgical or percutaneous epididymal sperm aspiration.
  3. Couples attempting to conceive with a gestational carrier (surrogate).
  4. Positive urine pregnancy test at screening.

Male Exclusion Criteria:

  1. Age <18 years.
  2. Unwilling to abstain from use of non-study approved dietary supplements or medications containing folic acid or oral preparations containing zinc throughout the study.
  3. Unwilling to abstain from use of testosterone supplementation throughout the study.  
  4. Diagnosis of Vitamin B12 deficiency or pericious anemia
  5. Consuming a vegan diet. 
  6. A known genetic cause of male factor subfertility, including chromosomal disorders related to subfertility (e.g., Y chromosome deletions).
  7. Current use of drugs known to interact with folic acid or interfere with the biosynthesis of folic acid including all dihydrofolate reductase inhibitors, including but not limited to Trimethoprim, Triamterene, Bactrim, Iclaprim,  and Sulfonamides including diuretics, such as Hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ),  Metolazone, Indapamide, Lasix, Bumex, Torsemide, Chlorthalidone, Acetazolamide, Mefruside, Xipamide; Sulfonylureas such as Glipizide and Glyburide; Cox-2 inhibitors, such as Celecoxib; Probenecid;  Sulfasalazine; Sumatriptan; Mafenide; Acetazolamide; Ethoxzolamide; Sulfiram; Zonisamide; optic agents including Dorzolamide and Dichlorphenamide; Valproic acid; Fluorouracil; Capecitabine; Methotrexate,  or other drugs known to interact with folic acid.
  8. History of organ transplantation.
  9. Physician diagnosed:
  1. Current poorly controlled chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, cancer, inflammatory diseases, autoimmune, thyroid disease, endocrine dysfunction, liver disease, kidney disease, or HIV/AIDS or other immune-insufficient related illnesses.
  2. Crohn's disease, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, gastric bypass surgery, lap band surgery or history of intestinal surgery to remove a portion of small bowel.  History of diseases/symptoms that require folic acid dietary supplementation, such as megaloblastic anemia, homocystinemia, and homocystinuria.
  3. History of alcohol dependency disorder and/or other drug/substance dependency in the past 180 days.
  4. History of psychoses or other mental condition that would result in cognitive impairment and inability to participate in any part of this study including the informed consent process, as diagnosed by a physician within the past year.

i.  History of vasectomy without reversal, obstructive azoospermia such as CBAVD, or ejaculatory duct obstruction.

j.  Known allergy to folic acid or zinc dietary supplementation.

Female Exclusion Criteria:

  1. Age <18 or >45 years.