Okay folks, so CoQ10 for female fertility and male fertility is pretty darn amazing. There are two kinds of CoQ10 supplements- Ubiquinol and Ubiquinone – and both are linked to increases in female fertility and male fertility (sperm health). Coenzyme Q10 is especially helpful if you are 35 or older, or if you have fertility issues like diminished ovarian reserve (like I did!).
In this blog post I’m going to talk about egg health and aging, the latest research on COQ10 improving egg quality for age related infertility, the best CoQ10 to take for fertility, and how to take Coenzyme Q10 to maximize its effectiveness. But, I’m going to start with how CoQ10 helped me get pregnant, TWICE!
CoQ10 Helped Me Get Pregnant TWICE with Diminished Ovarian Reserve
When I was trying to get pregnant, I struggled for two years with multiple miscarriages and the doctors told me I had poor egg quality- basically bad egg health was to blame for my recurrent losses. I was also diagnosed with High FSH, low AMH, and low antral follicle count. I was only 32, so this meant that I had “diminished ovarian reserve” for my age, in addition to “bad eggs.” I also had endometriosis with painful, heavy periods, and a single MTHFR mutation.
When my FSH hit 34, my doctors said that an egg donor would be the only way to get pregnant. I wasn’t ready to go down that path so I researched, and researched, and did EVERYTHING I found to boost my fertility naturally! One of the little miracles I discovered was CoQ10, and amazingly, it was one of the very few supplements that my doctor actually agreed I should take.
As I did more research, I learned that CoQ10 could also help with sperm health, so my husband started taking it as well.
I’m now a devotee of Coenzyme Q10 even though I’m not currently trying to conceive. I’ve been off caffeine for over five years now, and CoQ10 gives me the energy I need as a mom of small children.
Okay, let’s talk about what CoQ10 is for a minute.
Oh hey, I’m not a doctor in real life or on the internet. What I am is a woman who has two graduate degrees and was taught how to read scientific studies and understand them (and their weaknesses). I was struck by how little information my Reproductive Endocrinologists gave me, and how often their advice seemed to conflict with research. That is one of the main reasons I started this blog- to try to translate the medical research into everyday English and help women trying to conceive make decisions about their own health.
As for everything on this blog- it is for inspirational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose or prevent any disease and it does not replace evaluation, diagnosis, or treatment by qualified health care professionals. I encourage you to own your baby journey and make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with wise healers and qualified health care professionals who can provide you with tailored information and treatment opportunities.
What the heck is CoQ10?
Okay, so here we go with the science stuff! CoQ10 is an antioxidant that is naturally occurring in our bodies. It is made and used in all cells of humans!
CoQ10 is essential to helping the mitochondria in our cells PRODUCE ENERGY. Mitochondrial energy is EXACTLY what we need for healthy eggs and healthy sperm.
Being an antioxidant means that it slows down oxidation/deterioration of cells and protects them from the effects of free radicals. This is super important to countering “oxidative stress” which is when there is a disturbance between the balance of free radicals and protective antioxidants.
Various life-style behaviors and environmental toxins can increase your free radicals and throw everything out of whack- smoking, pollution, STDs., and maybe diet.
Oxidative stress lowers sperm motility, number, sperm-oocyte fusion, successful pregnancy rates, and fertility. So, you do NOT want oxidative stress! You want unstressed, yet energetic mitochondria, y’all.
Can you limit the oxidative stress on your mitochondria?
The first thing you can do to lower oxidative stress is of course minimize your behaviors, toxins, and diets that are stressing your body out.
But, we can’t ever completely eliminate our exposure to environmental toxins, and just simply by aging, there is more oxidative stress on our cells.
So, if we want high-functioning mitochondria (like the kind we need to make babies), in addition to changing our lifestyle and diets, we can use the antioxidant CoQ10 to boost our fertility.
Coenzyme Q10 and Aging
Hey, wait Anna, didn’t you say all of our cells already make this stuff? Why do we need to take it as a supplement?
Yes, but here’s the thing– as we get older, our cells make LESS CoQ10! We have the most naturally occurring CoQ10 in our bodies for the first 20 years– and then, it declines as we age. So as we get older we have less innate ability to manage this oxidative stress damage. Enter, the supplemental CoQ10.
(By the way, CoQ10 is kind of a miracle drug beyond fertility since it is kind of like a capsule of our body’s own fountain of youth. Other things CoQ10 has been shown to potentially help with include: high blood pressure, immune system, chronic fatigue syndrome, fatigue, high cholesterol, protection from chemotherapy, gum disease, age-related macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and migraine headaches.)
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) for Egg Health in Women Over 35
Okay, so the media has helped us all be terrified of the fact that fertility really does decline with age. Okay, we get it. Our egg quality declines. Egg quality is really the biggest issue with getting pregnant and having a healthy live birth for women older than 35.
But, here’s the amazing thing. New research is showing that we can potentially – to some extent- REVERSE this process through diet, non-toxic lifestyle, and supplementation.
The issue with egg and embryo quality boils down to having high-performing mitochondria that make plenty of energy at just the right time. The more an egg can produce enough energy at the right time the more likely it is to grow well and fertilize successfully.
So, if you are struggling with age-related infertility, or diminished ovarian reserve, you need to focus on getting your eggs (and your hubby’s sperm) producing gorgeous energy.
And CoQ10 is just the right supplement to boost that. If we know that a higher level of follicular fluid CoQ10 is linked with higher quality eggs and a more successful pregnancy rate, then if your are older with less natural CoQ10, it makes sense to supplement. You are helping your mitochondria make more energy- exactly what you need to support a healthy embryo.
Women over 35 get the biggest benefit from CoQ10 in terms of improved egg health and pregnancy success rates.
This makes sense- the older your eggs, the less efficient eggs are at producing the crucial mitochondrial energy needed for fertility. Successful ovulation of a healthy egg requires a ton of energy!!
Taking CoQ10 helps you get all that extra energy for ovulation that you lost as you got older.
The Research on CoQ10 & Egg Health
Where’s the research Anna? Okay, okay, here it comes!
We have plenty of studies showing us that egg quality decreases with age, but the main cause of this isn’t proven. But some research has shown that aging eggs also have mitochondrial dysfunction which seems to be because of not enough CoQ10— and that this might be driving age-related infertility.
Hey, and for those younger ladies out there with diminished ovarian reserve (High Fsh, Low AMH), or with poor ovarian response to IVF stimulation, CoQ10 has also showed benefits for increasing egg and embryo quality and ovarian response! This makes sense because Diminished Ovarian Reserve is likely linked to some kind of increased oxidative stress (that isn’t just from aging).
Research has confirmed that taking CoQ10 for a couple months before doing IVF retrieval boosts egg quality. The extrapolation to natural fertility is easy- we get the boost in egg quality also, ladies!
In the studies, women taking CoQ10 for a couple of months before egg retrieval had:
- Higher numbers of retrieved eggs (Xu 2018)
- More eggs fertilized (Xu 2018)
- A higher proportion of good-quality embryos (Xu 2018), especially in over 35- year-old women (Giannubilo 2018)
- Fewer cancelled cycles/a better response to stimulation – only 8 % of cycles cancelled versus 23% of non-CoQ10 (Xu 2018)
- More embryos available to freeze (Xu 2018)
- Lower rates of chromosomal abnormalities – 46% versus 62.8% (Bentov 2014)
If those numbers aren’t enough to convince you, I don’t know what is!
The Best CoQ10 For Fertility- Ubiquinol or Ubiquinone?
Alright ladies, here is where opinions get heated! Here is the deal: Both Ubiquinol and Ubiquinone work. We have both in our bodies, and they are freely transformed into each other, back and forth each day.
Quality Matters in CoQ10
And, all the CoQ10 formulations on the market are different due to the actual CoQ10 type, the manufacturing process, amount used, AND the specific fats and additives that help deliver the antioxidant to your system quickly (i.e., increase bioavailability). There are powder-pressed CoQ10s (not very bioavailable), soft-gel CoQ10s in water, and soft-gel CoQ10s in different kinds of oils- soy, olive, coconut, rice (more bioavailable).
So, quality, i.e., bioavailability, i.e., how much your body is actually able to process and use, varies widely in CoQ10 supplements.
But, it all works. You just need to take significantly MORE of lower quality stuff. The cheaper the supplement, the lower the quality, generally.
The more expensive, the better quality. This also means you need to take LESS of the more expensive kinds, thus making it not actually that much more expensive. Does that make sense?
Deciding between Ubiquinol and Ubiquinone for Fertility
For years doctors have said to take Ubiquinol over Ubiquinone because it is more bioavailable. But here’s the thing, there is some Ubiquinone that is more bioavailable than Ubiquinol. Confused yet? I bet you are. We all are, hahahaha!
Here’s what happened it a nutshell:
Almost all CoQ10 research was originally done with Ubiquinone. It showed incredible improvements in many areas, primarily heart muscles/cardiovascular system and immune system, but also fertility.
Then there was a study by Dr. Hosoe of Japan in 2007 that used the new Kaneka Ubiquinol. Someone compared the results of that study with a Parkinson’s study done by Beal, Sheltz, and Haas in 1998 that used a dry powdered crystalline form of ubiquinone which was poorly absorbed (that’s all they had back then!). And, lo and behold, people started saying Ubiquinol was eight times as effective, based on those two studies that really can’t be compared.
These studies were done almost 10 years apart, and didn’t review all forms of Ubiquinone and Ubiquinol. So, it isn’t really a fair comparison.
Given the recent results of the 2018 Giannubilo study, it seems like Pharmanord Bio-Quinone Gold may be the most bioavailable that has been researched- even though it is an Ubiquinone. The study saw increases in egg health with only 200mg a day – less than used in any other study. With over 100 clinical trials, it is one of the most widely researched CoQ10s on the market. It is also what my husband and I personally use.
The relationship between Ubiquinone and Ubiquinol
Here’s the science on the relationship between Ubiquinone and Ubiquinol in case you want to get nerdy:
Ubiquinol is an antioxidant throughout the body and is produced in a 17 step biochemical process. Once it donates two electrons to neutralize free radicals/oxidative damage, it is transformed to ubiquinone. And then, ubiquinol is produced again in a two step process after the ubiquinone makes Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) in the mitochondria.
ATP provides the energy to drive many processes in all living cells.
For egg health, both the ubiquinol and ubiquinone have a role. The ubiquinone provides ATP (ENERGY FOR EGGS) and once it is used in ATP production (where it receives two electrons), it becomes ubiquinol. The ubiquinol is then used to neutralize oxidative damage (by donating two electrons) and the byproduct of this donation is ubiquinone (EGG HEALTH).
So basically, ubiquinol changes to ubiquinone and then it changes back to ubiquinol in the body, in a beautiful cycle. This beautiful cycle both gives energy and protects against DNA and cell damage.
Pretty cool, huh? And you get the benefits from whichever you take- ubiquinol or ubiquinone. You just want whatever is the most bioavailable so you’re getting the most benefit.
I know. We are all wondering what the right CoQ10 fertility dosage is! There is a lot of confusion out there and every Reproductive Endocrinologist seems to recommend a different dosage! Here’s why:
Okay, originally doctors said 300mg Ubiquinol/600 mg standard Ubiquinone per day based on this one study from 2014 on CoQ10 and Oocyte Aneuploidy (the study had strong results but was cancelled before it finished, btw). It showed that the rate of aneuploidy (abnormal number of chromosomes) was less for the CoQ10 group than for the control group, and clinical pregnancy rate was slightly higher.
The 2018 Xu study that showed great improvements to fertility also used 600mg standard Ubiquinone (which would also roughly translate to 300mg Ubiquinol).
But then the 2018 Giannubilo study showed increased egg quality in women over 35-years with only 200 mg/day of a special highly-bioavailable Ubiquinone for 30 days! This is a huge difference from the early studies, and suggests this new form of Ubiquinone, the Bio-Quinone Gold, might be even more bioavailable than Ubiquinol.
So, your dosage really, really depends on what kind of CoQ10 you are taking. And, how much you can afford. Because, here’s the thing- some infertility doctors still recommend huge doses of CoQ10, up to 800mg/day because 1) it is so safe with few serious side-effects, and 2) they figure the more, the better, right? In fact, some studies on heart patients have gone up to 1,200 mg/day without many side effects.
Please note, that just because doctors aren’t worried about side effects, doesn’t mean they might not bother you. Taking too much COQ10 can lead to insomnia, headache, and stomach issues, for some people.
But, at some point, ladies, you are really just going to pee this stuff out. Your body can only synthesize so much. AND, if you’re taking good quality stuff it is EXPENSIVE. So, don’t spend a gazillion dollars and take so much your body can’t process it.
At some point, hopefully, we will get a good study that looks at different levels of CoQ10 dosage per day and its effectiveness on egg health, but until then, you need to base your dosage on what kind you are taking, and discuss with your doctor!
If all else fails, the research seems to imply that for egg health a good dosage is 200mg- 300mg of a highly bio-available like the Bio-Quinone, or 600 mg of a less bio-available CoQ10.
When taking a really high-quality CoQ10, watch out for insomnia. Some tricks to beat it are below!
How to take CoQ10 for the best absorption!
- Take your doses spread out- 100mg at a time, with at least an hour in between each dose. More than 100mg at a time and your body may not absorb it all of it, and it will be wasted.
- Take them spaced out in the morning so you don’t get insomnia at night. I try to avoid taking CoQ10 after noon, some people can take until 5pm. So, for three doses, it would be something like 7 am, 8:30 am, 10 am.
- Take less if it upsets your stomach (although research suggests you can’t really overdose on this stuff).
- Eat some fertility friendly fats with your dose- avocado, olives, coconut butter, nuts, seeds, etc.,to help your body process the CoQ10. This is less important with the highly bioavailable CoQ10s like the Bio-Quinone Gold which are packaged with an oil.
As a reminder, the information on this blog is for inspirational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose or prevent any disease and it does not replace evaluation, diagnosis, or treatment by qualified health care professionals. I encourage you to own your baby journey and make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with wise healers and qualified health care professionals who can provide you with tailored information and treatment opportunities.