Written by Nandan Roongta, Medical Expert and Gynecologist
Infertility is defined as the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse. There are multiple causes of infertility, including ovulatory disorders, endometriosis, tubal or uterine abnormalities, cervical or sperm factors, or even psychological problems, among others. Modifiable lifestyle factors, such as diet, smoking, physical activity, and caffeine or alcohol consumption, may also affect fertility.
Magnesium deficit is associated with a wide range of complications of female and male reproductive systems. Deficiency increases infertility, and the risk of miscarriage and pre-term birth and low birthweight babies. The essential requirement of magnesium for sex hormone production and function underlies the importance of magnesium in infertility. It is known that estrogen function is a magnesium-dependent process and magnesium controls FSH (hormone stimulating the ovaries) binding to receptors on the ovary. It is also known that magnesium is important in governing the rate limiting steps in protein synthesis and cell division.
The Role of Magnesium in the Body
Magnesium is an essential ion for health. It has cardio-protective and anti-inflammatory properties. The United States Food and Nutrition Board recommends a daily intake of 420 mg for men and 320 mg for women. Reports estimate that at least 60% of Americans do not consume the recommended daily amount of magnesium. The Western diet contains more refined grains and processed food, and 80 –90% of magnesium is lost during food processing. More than eight out of ten Americans are deficient in magnesium. Serum magnesium values reflect only 1% of the body magnesium content, since most of the body’s magnesium is stored in bone, muscle, and soft tissues. Therefore, even if the serum values are within the normal range, the body can be in a magnesium-depleted state. It is the Red blood cells (RBC) content of magnesium that can give an accurate assessment of the magnesium in the body.
The first use of magnesium in human medicine can be traced back to 1697 when Dr. Nehemiah Grew identified magnesium sulfate (MgSO4) as the major ingredient of Epsom salt. Epsom salt was extracted from a well in Epsom, England and was used over the years to treat abdominal pain, constipation, sprains, muscle strains and cerebral edema. Since then, magnesium has been implicated in and used for treatment of a variety of diseases, including migraines, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes.
Connection between Magnesium and Fertility
Diet is recognized as one of the major environmental factors influencing the fertility of humans, as also the development of the fetus, maternal health and pregnancy. The "Fertility diet" is known to help especially in conditions like the polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), where ovulation disorders adversely affect fertility. There is evidence that indicates a role for micronutrients supplementation in preventing some disorders leading to infertility. Among these, increasing calcium and magnesium intake can improve ovulation in some cases. Also reported is an association between greater adherence to a healthy dietary pattern and higher semen quality, particularly sperm concentration and progressive motility, among men from couples planning a pregnancy.
- Improves the metabolic syndrome (Insulin resistance) and ovulation
Several studies have found associations between a high consumption of low-fat dairy food, animal proteins, trans unsaturated fats, and carbohydrates, as well as high dietary glycemic load, and ovulatory infertility. All these findings suggest that insulin and glucose metabolism may affect fertility. Increased insulin resistance, present among women with diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), high body weight, or decreased physical activity, seems to lead to ovulatory dysfunction.
Magnesium-rich diets are associated with preservation of insulin sensitivity and a lower risk of developing diabetes. Studies have found that the deficiency in magnesium can influence the reduction of progesterone level and thus cause menstruation disorders. Insulin resistance is a very common associate of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). The women with PCOS and insulin resistance exhibited significantly lower serum levels of magnesium and certain other essential elements. Hence it may be necessary to supplement the diets of some PCOS women with magnesium among other supplements.
- Decreases fallopian tubal spasms
Magnesium deficiency is associated with increased smooth muscle cell tone, which may reduce the patency of an otherwise normal fallopian tube.
- Improves chances of embryo implantation
Magnesium improves egg fertilization rates, as well as embryo implantation after fertilization.
- Reduces stress
Perceived psychosocial stress has been alleged to be detrimental to successful human reproduction. Data suggest that stress and reproduction are interrelated. The probability of conception in cycles with the highest distress scores was lower in comparison to cycles with lower distress scores. Many clinical studies looking at the effects of psychological stress on male fertility have shown that stress is associated with reduced paternity and abnormal semen parameters.
Investigations have demonstrated a relationship between the manifestations of stress reactions (anxiety, autonomic dysfunction, and maladjustment) and magnesium deficiency.
Chronic stress results in the continuous release of stress hormones including epinephrine (adnenaline), cortisol, and aldosterone. This depletes the body of magnesium and the subsequent magnesium deficiency causes cellular energy loss and disease. Magnesium is known as an antidote to stress, and a powerful relaxation mineral.
Approximately half of all infertility cases are thought to be wholly, or in part, due to suboptimal male fertility. Magnesium is an essential factor in many of the processes of sperm production and function.
Magnesium and zinc are both involved in a high number of enzymatic activities vital for mammals. They are found in the prostate in remarkably high concentrations and released into the seminal fluid. Magnesium concentrations in seminal plasma were found significantly decreased in chronic prostatitis (Infections of the prostate gland). Studies have found that a drastic reduction of Zinc and Magnesium concentrations in the semen fluid may lead to disorders in male fertility.
Magnesium supplementation can be beneficial in cases of unexplained infertility or suboptimal fertility. Various modes of supplementation exist. The oral magnesium has to be in modified doses for people with kidney disorders and requires monitoring. In addition, oral magnesium can have interactions with other drugs taken. Topical magnesium is another simple and useful method of supplementation.
Magnesium and Fertility
~ Written by Nandan Roongta, Medical Expert and Gynecologist