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Can probiotics be beneficial in male reproduction health?

While the research on the gut microbiome’s direct role in male reproduction is still in its early stages, emerging evidence in both human and animal models suggests that the gut microbiome dysbiosis may affect male reproduction at various levels. The gut microbiome plays a crucial role in overall health, including nutrient absorption, immune function, metabolism, and hormone regulation, which can indirectly impact reproductive health in both men and women.

Understanding the role of the gut microbiome in male reproduction opens up potential avenues for intervention strategies targeting the microbiome to improve reproductive outcomes.

The role of probiotics in male reproduction is an area of ongoing research. Probiotics are live microorganisms that can confer health benefits when consumed in adequate amounts. They are commonly associated with promoting a healthy gut microbiome, but their effects on male reproductive health are still being explored.

Here are some potential ways in which probiotics may be relevant to male reproduction:

Sperm quality:

Dysbiosis of the gut microbiota changes the function and anatomy of the intestinal barrier, resulting in low-grade inflammation, metabolic disorders, endocrine disruption, and insulin resistance, all of which affect the mechanisms of spermatogenesis.

Studies in humans and animal models suggest that certain probiotic strains may positively influence sperm parameters, such as sperm count, volume, motility, and morphology. Probiotics may help reduce oxidative stress parameters and inflammation, which are factors known to affect sperm quality (1,2).

Fertility:

Imbalances in the gut microbiome have been linked to reduced fertility rates in both animal and human studies. The on-going research suggests that probiotics may improve fertility markers, such as semen parameters, sperm DNA integrity, and hormonal balance. In recent review of fifty-five studies, Lactobacillus spp. appear to be associated with an improvement in semen quality (3).

Hormone balance: The gut microbiome plays a role in the metabolism and regulation of hormones, including sex hormones such as testosterone. Studies have found that imbalances in the gut microbiome can influence the production, metabolism, and availability of hormones that are important for male reproduction. Alterations in hormone levels can have implications for fertility and reproductive health. There are some indications from the in vivo studies that certain probiotic strains may help increase testosterone levels. However, the evidence is limited.

Reproductive tract infections:

Changes in the gut microbiome can have an impact on the composition of the urogenital microbiota and potentially influencing the risk of infection and inflammation in the male reproductive system. Probiotics have been studied for their potential in preventing or treating reproductive tract infections, such as urinary tract infections, prostatitis or sexually transmitted infections. Please see our article entitled β€˜How can probiotics help male genital health?’ for more information.

Maintaining a healthy gut microbiome may help reduce systemic inflammation and promote optimal immune function, potentially benefiting male reproductive health. While the potential benefits of probiotics are promising, more research is needed to better understand the links and underlying mechanisms between the gut microbiome and male reproduction.

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