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Improved Pregnancy Rates with L-Carnitine Plus Acetyl L-Carnitine

A 2004 double-blind placebo controlled study in infertile men demonstrated that L-Carnitine and Acetyl L-Carnitine significantly increased sperm concentration, motility and morphology in men with poor sperm quality, resulting in a significantly higher pregnancy rate.

Naturally achieved pregnancy rates vs placebo = 21.8% vs 1.7% for placebo. (p<01)
Men with poor sperm quality (idiopathic or low grade varicocele-associated origin) had improved sperm parameters.

Most pregnancies occurred after 6 months on therapy. When therapy stopped, sperm patterns returned to their original low levels.

The objective of this study was to detect a therapy for idiopathic and varicocele-associated oligoasthenospermia (OAT). Idiopathic and varicocele OAT patients were randomized into 3 groups. Each group was composed of varying degrees of left varicoceles (graded into 5 grades with echo-color Doppler) and of idiopathic OATs.

Group 1 used a placebo, group 2 used oral L-carnitine (2 g/d) + acetyl-L-carnitine (1 g/d), group 3 used L-carnitine/acetyl-L-carnitine + 1 x 30-mg cinnoxicam suppository every 4 days. Drugs were administered for 6 months. The groups were composed as follows: group 1, 71 varicoceles and 47 idiopathic OATs; group 2, 62 varicoceles and 39 idiopathic OATs; group 3, 62 varicoceles and 44 idiopathic OATs. Sperm concentration, motility, and morphology before during and after treatments were assessed. Pregnancy rates and side effects were recorded.

Group 1 did not have modified sperm patterns during treatment. Group 2 had significantly increased sperm patterns at 3 and 6 months into therapy in idiopathic patients and in patients with grades I, II, and III varicocele, but not in grades IV and V. Group 3 had significantly increased sperm parameters in all patients, with the exception of grade V varicocele. Group 3 sperm patterns proved significantly higher during therapy than group 2.

All sperm patterns fell to baseline after therapy suspension. Minor side effects occurred. Pregnancy rates were 1.7% (group 1), 21.8% (group 2), and 38.0% (group 3) (P <.01). L-carnitine/acetyl-L-carnitine + cinnoxicam suppositories proved a reliable treatment for low-grade varicoceles and idiopathic OATs.


Cavallini G, Ferraretti AP, Gianaroli L, Biagiotti G, Vitali G. Cinnoxicam and L-carnitine/acetyl-L-carnitine treatment for idiopathic and varicocele-associated oligoasthenospermia. J Androl. 2004 Sep-Oct;25(5):761-70; discussion 771-2.

Key concepts: carnitine, pregnancy rates