It seems as if almost everything we encounter causes fertility damage these days, from the sugary foods we eat to the phones we carry in our pocket.
One of the biggest culprits is bisphenol A, commonly referred to as BPA, a synesthetic compound used in plastic water bottles and other materials. Past research has found everyday exposure to BPAs can decrease semen quality.
With sperm counts dropping rapidly—a 2017 study found that sperm counts in most major countries fell by 50 percent over the past four decades—researchers have been trying to find ways to protect men from further damage.
But now, you might be able to reverse harm already done to your little swimmers with the help of a compound already found in your body and food.
Harvard Medical researchers discovered that the antioxidant Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, reversed most of the reproductive harms caused by BPAs in a study conducted on worms.
The findings, published in the journal Genetics, could lead the way to future fertility treatments.
“Now, as we continue to screen for and study how chemicals affect reproductive health, we can also ask the next really important question: Given that we’re all exposed, how can we mitigate those effects in order to improve fertility and have healthier births?” Monica Colaiácovo, professor of genetics in the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School, said in a release.
CoQ10 is a naturally-occuring antioxidant produced by the human body, but also found in meat and fish. It’s also available in supplement form. Its fertility benefits are already known, however this is the first case that has showed it could repair damage already done to the reproductive system.
But don’t rush out to the supplement store just yet. As the researchers point out, humans are not big worms and the CoQ10 used in the experiment was a very pure form of the antioxidant—nothing like what you’d be able to get commercially.
The researchers, though, are optimistic of what the findings could mean for future research.