Oxidative stress leads to an increased oxidation of proteins and lipid membranes and is one of the proposed mechanisms responsible for the functional deterioration of cells and tissues. In addition, factors that reduce oxidative stress and enhance antioxidant capacity were shown to be associated with longer lifespan in animals.
One of the major causes of defective sperm function is oxidative stress, which disrupts the integrity of sperm DNA and limits the fertilizing potential of these cells as a result of collateral damage to proteins and lipids in the sperm plasma membrane.
Oxidative damage affects the ability of sperm to swim, to penetrate and fertilize eggs and their DNA integrity. Oxidative stress is generated by chemicals called reactive oxygen species (ROS), and these are produced within cells or by environmental insults.
Since the sperm head is small, it is deficient of most cell mechanisms which protect other cells from oxidative stress. The seminal plasma antioxidant capacity plays an important role in preserving sperm function, 25% of infertile men have high level of reactive oxygen species in their semen.
Studies have shown that men will generally experience a significant improvement in semen parameters after oral intake of antioxidants, such as Selenium, Omega 3 and Vitamin E.