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May 27, 1983

Sperm swim singly after vitamin C therapy

JAMA. 1983;249(20):2747-2751. doi:10.1001/jama.1983.03330440007003

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Swallow a gram of ascorbic acid daily and restore fertility in just four days?

It sounds implausible, to say the least. But Earl B. Dawson, PhD—with colleagues William A. Harris and William J. McGanity, MD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston—has recently shown that this may be possible in men with infertility secondary to nonspecific sperm agglutination.

At the recent meeting of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology in Chicago, Dawson reported on a study of 35 male patients who could not impregnate their wives because more than 20% (mean, 37%) of their sperm clumped together, as demonstrated by microscopic studies of semen samples. The men's serum ascorbic acid levels averaged 0.2 mg/dL, which is considered borderline by the US National Nutrition Research Council, in contrast to a normal level of 0.6 to 0.8 mg/dL. Semen levels of the vitamin averaged 4.2 mg/dL.

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