Infertility is a growing issue that affects couples trying for children, many reproductive-aged couples trying to conceive experience infertility. Infertility is defined as an inability to become pregnant after 12 months of unprotected and regular sexual activity. Around 15% of couples around the world struggle to conceive; however, infertility in individuals assigned female at birth (AFAB) accounts only for 35% of all cases; 20% of cases are related to both AFABs and individuals assigned male at birth (AMAB); 30% of cases only involve issues with AMABs; and 15% of infertility cases are unsolved. Around 80 million AFABs globally may experience infertility, according to the WHO.1
Infertility in AFABs are predominantly brought on by incompatible sexual intercourse circumstances, ovulatory disorders, decreased ovarian reserve, body structure, and endocrine, genetic, functional, or immunological abnormalities of the reproductive stem.
Infertility in AMABs are predominantly brought on by sexual conditions that interfere with the ability to deposit semen in the vagina, for example anatomical, endocrine, genetic, functional, or immunological abnormalities of the reproductive system like chronic illness.
In addition to several gynaecological and systemic disorders that impair an AFAB’s fertility, environmental variables and lifestyle choices including demanding work, imbalanced nutrition, and bad diets also affect both the AMABs and AFABs ability to reproduce safely..2
The importance of magnesium (Mg) in fertility is highlighted in the article that follows.
How does magnesium affect fertility?
Magnesium is the second-most abundant intracellular divalent cation and the fourth-most abundant necessary mineral. Over 300 metabolic processes in the body use it as a cofactor. Only 1% of the body's total magnesium is present in the extracellular space, with the majority (85%) being kept in bone, Magnesium is crucial for bone health.
About 70% of the magnesium in serum is in the ionized (free) state, which is essential for several physiological functions.3
Magnesium plays a crucial part in many key systems, including the cardiovascular and skeletal muscle systems, as well as the effects of high blood pressure, stroke, migraine, diabetes, and other disorders.4
Semen contains a significant amount of magnesium and must be present in an ideal concentration for sperm to survive. This quantity is higher inside the sperm than it is outside.
Magnesium may be important for sperm motility and sperm formation.
Additionally, Mg is recognized as a marker of seminal vesicle secretions and functions as an inner-cell calcium antagonist, it is also required for healthy ejaculation.
The spermatozoa's production, maturation, motility, and fertility may all be impacted by abnormal levels of calcium and magnesium during spermatogenesis, resulting in fertility potency in AMABs.5
Researchers think there is a connection between magnesium shortage and infertility, in AFABs, numerous studies have found that the blood magnesium levels of infertile AFABs are low, and in one small trial, all of the infertile AFABs who received a magnesium and selenium supplement became pregnant within eight months.6
A diet high in magnesium promotes healthy insulin sensitivity and ovulatory function, which are crucial for fertility and for those with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)-a typical endocrine disorder that contributes to infertility.
Magnesium balances the levels of estrogen and progesterone and controls follicle-stimulating hormone, often known as FSH, which is the hormone that stimulates the ovaries since estrogen is reliant on magnesium levels.
Low progesterone levels can result in low magnesium levels, which can shorten the luteal phase and increase the chance of miscarriage. Because magnesium levels fall before a period and it helps with the production of serotonin, which makes you feel happy, magnesium is crucial if you have premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
How much magnesium should I take for fertility?
The optimum magnesium intake for a normal daily intake varies based on the age, gender assigned at birth, pregnancy status etc. The table below gives the recommended levels based on the above-mentioned factors.
Ensuring to meet the recommended magnesium levels through the diet or by supplementation while trying to get pregnant could be helpful but it is essential to consult your doctor before taking any additional supplements.
There are several plant and animal-based foods that are a great source of magnesium. Some of the sources are:
- Black beans
- Milk and yoghurt
- Chicken breast
Magnesium supplements are available in a variety of forms and the absorption of magnesium from different supplements varies. Some common supplements of magnesium are
- Magnesium oxide
- Magnesium citrate
- Magnesium lactate
- Magnesium chloride
- Magnesium aspartate
Side effects and other concerns
Although magnesium is an essential component of human biology, magnesium insufficiency is common among many cultures, particularly in the Western world. This insufficiency is managed by modifying the daily dietary intake and also by taking magnesium supplementations.
Excess magnesium from food does not pose a risk in healthy individuals as the kidneys eliminate excess amounts in the urine. However, high doses of magnesium from dietary supplements or medications often result in7
- Abdominal cramping
Very large doses of magnesium can lead to magnesium toxicity leading to facial flushing, hypotension, nausea, vomiting, retention of urine, ileus, depression, and lethargy before progressing to muscle weakness, extreme hypotension, difficulty breathing, irregular heartbeat, and cardiac arrest. Magnesium toxicity increases the risk of kidney failure making it difficult for the kidney to eliminate excess amounts of magnesium.
Magnesium supplements can interact with several medications, so it is essential to consult your GP before consumption.
Infertility is a growing issue affecting couples trying for children, many reproductive-aged couples trying to conceive experience infertility. Magnesium is one of the minerals that are essential for regulating and maintaining physiological processes. It is also seen to have a role in influencing fertility in AFABs and AMABs. In AMABs, magnesium may be important for healthy ejaculation, sperm motility and sperm formation. In AFAB’s magnesium helps manage PCOS and PMS, it also helps control the FSH levels. A study also showed that magnesium and selenium supplements increased the chances of fertility in infertile AFABs.
If you want to support your reproductive health, adding magnesium-rich foods to your diet through natural sources as well as in the form of supplements is essential. Consulting a doctor before taking additional supplements is essential as magnesium supplements have the ability to interact with other medications. Excessive dosage of magnesium from supplementation can lead to magnesium toxicity which can be lethal in some cases.
- Skoracka K, Ratajczak AE, Rychter AM, Dobrowolska A, Krela-Kaźmierczak I. Female fertility and the nutritional approach: the most essential aspects. Adv Nutr [Internet]. 2021 Jun 17 [cited 2023 May 25];12(6):2372–86. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8634384/
- Silvestri E, Lovero D, Palmirotta R. Nutrition and female fertility: an interdependent correlation. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne) [Internet]. 2019 Jun 7 [cited 2023 May 25];10:346. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6568019/
- Tonick S, Muneyyirci-Delale O. Magnesium in women’s health and gynecology. Open Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology [Internet]. 2016 Apr 7 [cited 2023 May 25];6(5):325–33. Available from: http://www.scirp.org/Journal/Paperabs.aspx?paperid=66098
- Mustafa F. Hasan, Qussay Noori Raddam. The relationship of zinc and magnesium in different male infertility cases. EurAsian Journal of BioSciences [Internet]. Oct 2020 [cited 2023 Sep 18]; 14:4347-4351. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/345815428_The_relationship_of_zinc_and_magnesium_in_different_male_infertility_cases
- Wong WY, Flik G, Groenen PMW, Swinkels DW, Thomas CMG, Copius-Peereboom JHJ, et al. The impact of calcium, magnesium, zinc, and copper in blood and seminal plasma on semen parameters in men. Reproductive Toxicology [Internet]. 2001 Mar 1 [cited 2023 May 26];15(2):131–6. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0890623801001137
- Howard JM, Davies S, Hunnisett A. Red cell magnesium and glutathione peroxidase in infertile women--effects of oral supplementation with magnesium and selenium. Magnes Res. 1994 Mar;7(1):49–57. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8054261/
- Fiorentini D, Cappadone C, Farruggia G, Prata C. Magnesium: biochemistry, nutrition, detection, and social impact of diseases linked to its deficiency. Nutrients [Internet]. 2021 Mar 30 [cited 2023 Sep 18];13(4):1136. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8065437/